The worst things about the NYC subway

By Melissa Kravitz

What time is it? Time to whine about the subway.

In a city that loves to complain, don't expect New Yorkers to rave about the MTA: New York's most necessary evil is just so terrible to us.

From sights to smells to sounds, the NYC subway can get pretty awful.

Here are our least favorite things about it.

Missing your train by seconds

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We've all been there: You run down the stairs, get through the turnstile and sprint to your train, only to see its doors close a second before you're able to cross the threshold. It's one of the few times it's acceptable to yell (or at the very least issue a low growl) in a subway station.

People who hold the door

Photo Credit: Alison Fox

People who hold the door should be fined for holding everyone else up -- oh wait, that's actually an MTA rule, even if it's rarely enforced. Just don't be that guy (or girl), OK? Just don't.

Waiting for the train at a station

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It's bad enough subway carts are crowded, but when they don't come on time, the station becomes packed and it turns into a case of survival of the fittest on who will board the train first.


The price

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Throwback to March 2008 when a 30-day card was $81. Or 10 years before that, 1998, when it was a mere $63. To compare, a Chicago CTA 30-day pass costs only $100 and student discounts are available.

The physical MetroCard

Photo Credit: <a href="">mtaphotos via Flickr (CC BY-SA)</a>

Even seasoned New Yorkers swipe too quickly and get stuck in the turnstyles. Why isn't this an app already??

Rain puddles ... inside

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

Whenever it rains, we get to play a fun little game of "Frogger," but instead of dodging cars, we're avoiding disgusting puddles of runoff mixed with rust (and who knows what else) at the bottom of staircases and on station platforms.

Snow-related delays, service changes

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Stan Honda

As if trudging through a snowstorm to get to work wasn't bad enough, now you're stuck on your train -- or worse, it just doesn't show up.

The announcements you can’t even hear

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We're late because of a what? What's happening? What?

People sleeping across seats

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Sometimes there's the occasional subway rider taking up seats sleeping who makes you want to shout, "This is not your bed, sleep somewhere else!"

Signal problems

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

You know you've seen this alert from the MTA: "Trains are running with delays due to signal problems." What does that even mean?

The sounds

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Is there a desperate cat tied to the bottom of every subway car? Why are the rails so deafening? That can't be safe.

The random schedule changes

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Oh, this train is just going to stop at Roosevelt Island and never turn around. OK. Fine. Whatever.

When no one’s behind the booth to help with MetroCards

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Sure, there's MetroCard machines, but sometimes you're stuck with two cards that both have insufficient amounts, but combined they equal the fare, and only way to do that is with the help of someone in the booth.

When there is train traffic ahead of you

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Hold on, didn't we take the train in the first place to avoid all the street traffic? Traffic? Seriously. We're underground! Get with the program, MTA.

Subway shuttles

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These are NOT subways. Not only are they not underground, on tracks or accessible via turnstiles, these are just buses that get stuck in traffic along the route -- maybe -- of a train. Just call them what they are MTA: Buses.

Subways that are supposed to be in sync with other connections

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We've all been there. Especially the Staten Island Ferry riders, who just miss the ferry by a minute and have to wait a half hour for the next.

The temperature

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After you freeze from waiting for the train in all your layers you're way too hot and sweaty in your parka and suddenly it's summer and you're melting but wait the A/C just turned on and now you've turned to ice. Repeat.

Rush hour

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Why can't everyone just work from home? It's way too crowded at pretty much every hour.

Two words: Show. Time.

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What time is it? Time to get kicked in the face.

When someone drops a water bottle on the floor and it just rolls back and forth forever

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Literally the worst thing ever because no one is picking that thing up.

The smells

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"Ah, the smell of Manhattan" - where subways have the mixed aroma of garbage, urination and the unknown. Whether you're on the subway or at the station waiting, it is never nose-friendly.


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"Oh yes, I love being smacked about the body by someone else's backpack on a crowded train," said no one ever.


Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

It's just so bad.

Tourists who think your head only exists to block them from seeing the map

Photo Credit: <a href="">Bob Kieffer via Flickr (CC BY-SA)</a>

Even worse, tourists who don't see your head at all and are totally fine brushing past your ponytail to see the fastest (probably not) route from Times Square to South Street Seaport.

People who don’t move into the center of the car

Photo Credit: <a href="">Tasayu Tasnaphun via Flickr (CC BY-SA)</a>

Have you never been in a crowd before? Come on.

People who stand by the doors and don’t get off

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Sorry not sorry we have to push you now.

People who forget the subway is a public place

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Stop making out, doing your makeup or like anything else you wouldn't do in front of your boss.


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OK, that basically sums it up.