What is the Worst Subway Line in NYC? 

by Julia Klimek and Vanessa Zevallos

The MTA New York City Subway System has been around since 1904 and has changed drastically since then. It’s considered to be one of the world’s oldest and most used public transit systems and owns the title of being the largest rapid transit system in the world.

There are exactly 472 stations and 36 subway lines that run through Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx today. However, the subway system isn’t as perfect as outsiders may think.

If you take public transportation often in NYC there was at least one day of your life (or many) in which you got caught in the typical subway chaos. 

Countless delays, bugs and trash running through train carts, and trains slowing down when you’re already late, are only some of the things every New Yorker has experienced when taking public transportation. But which subway line does this happen the most to? Which subway line is the most unreliable, slow, delayed, and dirty? After asking others about their experiences with the NYC Subway System we determined that the 7 train is the worst subway line.    

According to most students, the subway is their go-to source of transportation. Students who commute to school by taking the Manhattan-bound trains agreed that the E and 7 trains are the most troublesome.

Alyse Gonzalez, attending Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), commutes from East Elmhurst, Queens.

“I take the 7 train, and during rush hour (especially) it’s a nightmare. You’re literally squeezed in there like sardines sometimes,” she said.

Many other students also mentioned this about the 7 train when sharing their opinions about the subway system. They have claimed it’s “extremely slow” and “unreliable.” 

Sihan Qi, a student that commutes to Astoria from Flushing, Queens, also shares his opinion on the MTA subway system.

“The subway is my go-to commute on all days because it’s economically efficient. I think the E train is the worst line because there are so many delays on the weekends and at night. Sometimes homeless people just camp in the train station,” he added.

The 7 train and E train are among the most popular subway lines, when it comes to traveling Manhattan/ Brooklyn bound. When it comes to traveling Queens/ Manhattan bound, the G and M/R are popular subway lines.

Nicole Oszczypala, a student at Brooklyn Technical High School, uses the G train as her main form of transportation.

“The G train is always crowded, has unreasonably long wait times (10-20 minutes), unexpected inconveniences, and full of panhandlers. The stations are also pretty musty, such as Broadway. It always has random puddles of dirty water everywhere,” she said.

Problems like delays, crowds, and dirtiness throughout the subway lines are caused by many factors. One of the main things that contributes to these issues is a lack of MTA workers.

According to the New York Times’ article The Help-Wanted Signs Are Up for Transit Workers, “The need is a chronic shortage of transit workers. Riders have been enduring it, with subways and buses that come less often or scheduled trips that are canceled because transit agencies cannot muster enough crews.” The quality of the MTA system has been declining. There are less workers available to clean and operate subways, causing the public to view the subway system so negatively. 

Another critical factor is funding. It’s evident that there has been more work put into some subway stations than others through the modernized turnstiles, stairs, elevators, escalators, art on the walls, and more. Stations like these can be found usually on the Upper East Side, such as the 72nd Street stop on the Q subway line.

Stations in areas like Flatbush, Brooklyn are usually described as “dirty,” “ugly,” and “poor.” This is mainly due to the difference in funding the MTA system. The Upper East Side is considered to be a wealthy area to live in as opposed to Flatbush. Wealthier areas tend to have access to higher quality public transportation whether cleanliness, speed, reliability, or timeliness is taken into account. 

Rodolfo Rodriguez, a concerned student attending Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), speaks out about some of the issues regarding the MTA.

“Bronx trains like 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 are ghetto and dirty, but I think it’s neglected train systems because they’re in the Bronx. Systemic racism? Maybe, I don’t know. That’s my sidenote.”

“It’s ironic how the underdeveloped places like in the Bronx and Brooklyn are not getting funded, but up and gentrified locations like Long Island City and Astoria are receiving funding to ‘beautify’ the transit system,” he continued.

The pandemic has also taken a toll on funding as more people have stopped taking public transportation in fear of being exposed to the Corona virus. Many people also don’t pay for the fare by having others open the emergency exits for them or jumping the turnstiles. 

But this isn’t the only problem that the subway experiences. Vagrancy issues are a major downside the MTA undergoes. With the pandemic raging and new strains emerging, homeless people do not have the resources to take certain safety precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing. Furthermore, they tend to reside in subway stations or subway carts. But even before the pandemic, this was still an issue.

Although there are many negative things that can be said about the NYC Subway System, one cannot forget about the positive reasons why people even take the subway. One reason why the subway is worth taking is because it’s affordable. 

Nicole Oszczypala mentions this in her opinion on the subway system.

“I use the subway as my ‘go-to’ commute because it’s more affordable to pay $2.75 to get across the city than twenty bucks for a fifteen minute cab ride like Uber.” She also said that the subway is usually pretty fast since it’s not affected by red lights, traffic, or speed limits like a car or bus.

Another thing to take into consideration when discussing affordability is that students who attend a school in NYC are offered full fare student metrocards for free.   

Overall, the MTA New York City Subway System has its ups and downs. Even though people can agree that every subway line has disappointed them at least once in our lives, the 7 train can be ranked as the worst subway line in NYC when taking reliability, timeliness, speed, cleanliness, and crowds into account. Would you have ranked differently?