Editorial: R beef with the R train

Ask the riders — R is not just for rarely anymore.

With the MTA’s decision to remove the overnight cleaners from six stations along the line between Prospect Avenue and 95th Street, you can add repugnant to the list of adjectives that frustrated commuters will be using to describe the train they take to work every day.

Dubbed a pilot program by the MTA, the impending removal of the overnight cleaners (at all open stations along the stretch except 36th Street) has raised hackles of residents and their elected officials alike who want to know why the agency keeps the hits coming.

It’s not as if riders weren’t already inconvenienced by the several-month-long closures of two (soon to be three) stations along the route while long-overdue renovations are made, is it?

And, R train riders aren’t the ones who complain about long waits, particularly at 59th Street during late night hours. Heck, those waits now seem interminable during daytime, too!

“It’s always been bad,” said one disgruntled rider — an opinion borne out by surveys conducted annually by the Straphanger’s Campaign, whose most recent report says that R train commuters get only $1.75 worth of service for their $2.75 fare.

According to Straphanger’s, Rs come less frequently, and with below-average regularity compared to the system as a whole. They also break down with more frequency than the average train line.

But, Straphanger’s says they are cleaner than average — a statistic, we fear, that is about to change thanks to the MTA’s latest boneheaded move, which some Ridgeites also fear will make platforms less safe.

After all, removing the nighttime cleaners will mean that, in those stations, the only MTA employee is the station clerk in his or her little booth, rendering late-night platforms even more desolate as riders wait for extended periods for the train that rarely seems to arrive.

Now, that’s ridiculous.


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