Southwest Brooklyn trains don’t make the grade

Local subway lines D, N and R barely get a passing grade in the summer 2012 State of the Subway report card, compiled by NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign.

According to the report card, the Q is the best subway line overall and the C is the worst, but the routes that serve Southwest Brooklyn tied for 10th place out of the city’s 20 subway lines.

According to the report, the three lines also scored below average on most of the issues that subway riders find most important: scheduled arrival times; chance of getting a seat; cleanliness of cars; how often cars break down and in-car announcement performance.

The Straphanger’s Campaign has been handing out report cards since 1997, based on the most recent MTA New York City Transit data, using detailed methodology. The summer 2012 report uses data from 2011. Besides ranking the lines, the report card includes a profile of each route and a “MetroCard” rating.

The D, N and R lines all have a $1.20 MetroCard rating, which means that a ride on these trains should cost only that.

According to the State of the Subway, the R line is scheduled to come less often than most other lines and also arrives with “below-average regularity.” Cars on the R line break down more often than other lines, after only 78,220 miles traveled instead of the system-wide average of 172,700. The line is three percent less clean than average and announcements are 12 percent less likely to be heard.

But after waiting so long for a train, there is a somewhat tarnished silver lining for R train riders: they have the best chance of getting a seat during rush hour compared to other lines in the system.

The N line is also scheduled to come less often than most of the other lines, but arrives with near-average regularity. Cars break down much less often on the N line, at every 441,674 miles. Cars on the N are five percent less clean than average, but the line’s performance is nearly perfect on in-car announcements, most likely because N train cars are updated R160s, with automated announcements and a digital map. N train riders are nine percent less likely to find a seat during rush hour.

The D train is scheduled to come less often than the average subway line, as well, but arrives with average regularity. Its cars break down more often, at 139,041 miles. D line cars are five percent less clean than average and the line performs six percent below average when it comes to in-car announcements. D train riders have an average chance – 44 percent – of getting a seat during rush hour.

Straphangers on the D line said the train itself wasn’t the problem: it’s the constant construction that causes headaches. When this paper visited the 18th Avenue station on a Thursday afternoon, trains were not running to Manhattan.

“On the weekends, I never know if it’s on or off,” said Karly Li of Bensonhurst. “Sometimes it runs late and goes express. It skips stops and is super crowded. But when it’s running [normally], it’s great.”

Rafael Fernandez takes the D in the middle of the day to and from work assignments. “In general, it’s pleasant to ride outside to Coney Island,” he noted. “But I am on my way to Manhattan and it’s [not running]. It’s not that pleasant to get that surprise.”

Brianna V. of Bath Beach said that she wishes the D line had newer cars. “They are dirty,” she said. “There’s also too many problems on the weekends.”

For R and N train rider Yasman Y., who lives in Park Slope but visits her sister in Bay Ridge often, the report card was right on the money. “At night, the R comes every 20 minutes, if you’re lucky, but you do get a seat every time,” she said.

For the complete Summer 2012 State of the Subway report card, visit

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