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Subway riders' holiday transit wish list, in their own words

Straphangers voice their most desired changes to New York City's transit system for 2019.

New York City buses, subways and commuter rails

New York City buses, subways and commuter rails saw another another tumultuous year. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

All New Yorkers want for the holidays are better subways and buses.

Residents from around the city listed various problems with bus and subway service at the top of amNewYork’s 2018 Transit Wish List, an annual airing of grievances and call for a new year of better mobility.

2019 is poised to be momentous in terms of its impact on how New Yorkers get around. The looming L train shutdown in April will displace 225,000 daily riders who rely on the line to get between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Another fare hike in March appears to be all but certain. And after a false start in 2018, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who effectively controls the state’s MTA, has promised to bring congestion pricing to New York City through the next legislative session in Albany starting in January.

“We'd like to see our elected leaders put transit riders' needs first in 2019,” said Danny Pearlstein, spokesman for the Riders Alliance. “The governor and legislature should adopt a fair, sustainable, comprehensive funding plan to modernize the subway in the state budget, including congestion pricing.

“The mayor should prioritize bus riders on city streets by ramping up a citywide network of dedicated bus lanes,” he added, “and speeding the implementation of transit signal priority, which holds or turns lights green to keep buses — and bus riders — moving.”

Shams Tarek, an MTA spokesman, said the authority had a wish of its own: for lawmakers to rally behind and fund Transit President Andy Byford's 10-year modernization plan for subway, bus and accessibility service. The plan, called Fast Forward, is estimated to cost around $40 billion.

“At the top of NYC Transit's wish list is sustainable funding for President Byford's Fast Forward Plan to completely modernize the transit system with new signaling, vastly improved accessibility, clear bus lanes and new bus routes with greater frequencies," Tarek said in a statement.

Here are the wishes of some of the roughly eight million city commuters who deal with trains stalled in the tunnel or buses snarled in traffic:


Kevin Maguire, 31, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

“I have a 45-minute window that I get in [to work],” said Maguire, a building engineer, who has lost his mornings to the unreliable R train. “I leave earlier and earlier.”

Monet O’Brien, 25, Jamaica, Queens

“For the trains to run on time,” said O’Brien, an auditor.

“I would like a reliable transit system. I feel like it’s the bare minimum,” she added.    

Greg Guarino, 27, Port Chester, New York


"I would say I feel bad for [Byford] because they’re hamstrung,” said Guarino, a teacher working in the Bronx. “They have an infrastructure that’s over 100 years old, people have kicked the can down the road for so long. It needs wholesale updating but there’s not billions of dollars.”


Eric Apple, 49, Harlem

“Better communication around service delays,” said Apple, a lawyer, referring to confusion around subway disruptions.

“I know they’re going to happen, that’s just natural. But improve communication,” he added.

Jeff Sherwood, 31, Park Slope, Brooklyn

“The stop clocks,” said Sherwood, a writer of dictionary definitions, complaining about the unreliability of the lettered-lines' countdown clocks. “Having actual reliable information on all the platforms — announcements that are straightforward and not bureaucratese. Just say a tree fell on the track or someone got hit. Just don’t make it sound like it’s so complicated.”


Darian Jarvis, 20, Crown Heights, Brooklyn

“Cleaner subway.”

“You see the MTA's stats about litter and that causes slower trains [via track fires],” said Jarvis, a student. “With cleaner subways we could always have faster transit.”

Erica Herrera, 36, Crown Heights, Brooklyn  

“I want it to be clean,” said Herrera, a designer. “I think it’s disgusting.”

“I think it smells,” she said. “And I think Byford should make better use of the dollars we put into the MTA.”  


Sakena Briggs, 44, Crown Heights, Brooklyn

“When I use the app, a lot of times it says a bus just left so the next bus is 30 minutes [away], which is a long time to wait,” said Briggs, a B44 rider who works at a bank. “I’ve waited up to two hours for a bus. It was raining and it’s just horrible.”

Mary Pagurelias, 69, Gravesend, Brooklyn

"They don’t supply enough buses. When we get off the train coming home from work . . . and we go to the B31, we wait and we wait sometimes 20 minutes,” said Pagurelias, a paralegal, who takes the B31 each day. “People have called often and complained about it . . . and it’s just horrendous.”

Christopher Barrett, 38, Park Slope, Brooklyn

“Stay on schedule,” said Barrett, a firefighter, of shoddy bus service. “Sometimes it says the bus is coming in the next five minutes and it turns out to be 40 minutes. Depends on the route.”

Barret said the B44 and the B37 are the most unreliable, in his experience. When he's standing waiting so long for a bus to arrive he can't help but think: “Uber?”


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