In case you haven’t noticed, the New York City subway isn’t just a filthy rat-infested hellhole; it also regularly screws over many of its millions of daily commuters with its maddening dysfunction, causing everything from missed job interviews to school suspensions to broken legs. These just a few of the many commuter woes detailed in “Subway Horror Stories,” a booklet compiled by straphanger activist group Riders Alliance in an effort to push Governor Cuomo to fill the $15-billion budget gap in the MTA’s five-year capital improvement plan.
The plan would fix broken equipment, replace old subway cars, and repair stations and lines. Yesterday, the Alliance staged a read-in protest outside Cuomo’s midtown office around a mock campfire.
The 30-page pamphlet, dedicated to Cuomo (“This book wouldn’t have been possible without you”), reads like a chapbook of macabre prose poems about commuting (with some evocative titles: “I See Altercations When People Are Crushed,” “The Rats Are on the Steps,” “People Were Shoving the Man with his Baby”).
The stories include several MTA-induced injuries and health scares: Sandra Y. of Manhattan was pushed off a crowded 6 train, then fell on the platform and broke her fibula. Douglas M. of Brooklyn writes that after his E train sat still in a tunnel for over an hour, a man in the hot, cramped car collapsed. No one responded to the emergency alarm, and the intercom was broken. Fortunately, he was eventually resuscitated. Several contributors point out how hostile the subway’s environment feels to the elderly and disabled.
Other horrors are rat-related: “I am in the subway every morning at 4:45 am and the rats in this subway station are so horrible that sometimes you can’t even walk up and down the steps because the rats are on the steps to the platform. They get really close to people—it’s disgusting and dangerous,” writes Sandra Y. of Manhattan.
And then there’s the pain of watching multiple overcrowded trains pass by while waiting on the platform. One brave soul reported watching five G trains pass by before he could board.
Even Cuomo’s reptilian heart might be moved by these tales. The Riders Alliance implores him to try riding the subway at rush hour to experience the struggle firsthand. They also plan to present the horror stories to legislators in Albany next week.
Read “Subway Horror Stories” in full here, or download it for free: