Moving Toward a Better C Train

December 11, 2015

Elected Officials, Riders React to MTA Full Line Review of A and C Lines

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New York, NY – Today the MTA released its long-anticipated Full Line Review of the A and C lines of the New York City Subway. That full line review, first announced by the MTA in May 2014, was the result of a request by State Senator Daniel Squadron and grassroots pressure from Riders Alliance members.

Since May 2014, the Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, borough President Eric Adams, State Senator Daniel Squadron, and a wide range of elected officials have been calling on the MTA to release a full line review of the A and C lines that increased service and improved stations in response to rider complaints of overcrowding, train delays, and poor communication.  Squadron worked with the MTA in 2009 to create Full Line Reviews as a cost-effective way to make improvements that make a difference for riders who need it most.

The C train, rated the worst line by NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign 4 years in a row, currently runs at a frequency of 8-10 minutes in the morning rush, according to the MTA’s own schedule.  Other lines, like the F train, have a morning frequency of 4-6 minutes. Riders say the C train should run more often during rush hours.

In response to today’s release of the Full Line Review on the A and C lines, elected officials and Riders Alliance members said the following:


“Today’s A/C Full Line Review promises a few improvements for riders, like station improvements, adjusting service timing during peak hours, and service increases on Sundays. But we’re disappointed that the MTA has decided not to increase service on the A & C during rush hours or take serious measures to decrease crowding across the entire line. Riders are tired of dealing with crowded platforms and trains, and this full line review only partially solves their complaints. Many of the long-term improvements the MTA has promised A/C riders in the full line review rely on full funding of the MTA’s capital plan. This is a step in the right direction–but it’s just a step. Without a fully-funded capital plan, many of the MTA’s promises in the full line review will go unmet,” said Rebecca Bailin, Campaign Manager for the Riders Alliance.

“I’m thankful for the MTA to even be looking into the C train and listening to our concerns. But the most important thing is C train frequency. The C train is just blocks from my apartment, but I will take the B25 to the 4 train to avoid it. And New Yorkers know that if you have to take a bus to avoid a train, there’s something wrong here,” said Danna Johnson, Riders Alliance member and Brooklyn resident off of the Ralph Avenue stop.

“The MTA claims that the A and C lines are not crowded by their believe-it-or-not standards called ‘loading guidelines.’ The Straphangers Campaign challenges transit officials to ride with us one day and ask some riders what they think,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the Straphangers Campaign.

“While today’s release of the A/C full line review is a good first step toward identifying and implementing necessary improvements that riders deserve, I am disappointed in the lack of commitment to expanding the levels of service during rush hour,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “The MTA must identify funds to expand service on these important lines, as well as provide increased accessibility to closed entrances in order to ease station overcrowding.”

“There’s good news in this Review, but, it’s also critical the MTA quickly solve for the bunching, delays, and packed trains the Review found,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “I created Full Line Reviews with the MTA to find cost-effective ways to make improvements that make a difference for riders who need it most. The MTA must commit to begin the next Full Line Review immediately, and complete it within 6 months. Riders deserve nothing less. I thank Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, Borough President Adams, and the entire A/C Working Group for continuing to push for a better A/C.”

“We know that ridership on the subway system broke all records this October  and it’s time for the MTA to increase service to keep pace with the demand,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn).  “Anyone riding the subway has experienced delays, overcrowding and inconvenience, but service on the C train has been notoriously bad. I join my colleagues and subway riders in urging the MTA to improve the frequency of C trains.”

“Upper Manhattan residents depend on the A and C lines to function reliably everyday, but too often delays leave riders stranded. I am grateful that the MTA has looked into improving service on these lines but more must be done to increase frequency and reliability,” said State Senator Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan/Bronx).

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “I want to thank the MTA for completing this sustained Full Line Review of the A/C line. While the review proposes some important improvements such as schedule changes, prioritization of communication upgrades, and reopening closed station entrances including one in my district at 50th Street, this plan does not go as far as it should to help nearly 800,000 daily A/C riders. The MTA must do more to address overcrowding beyond a few stations, including accelerated plans to replace old train cars and most critically, stable funding. I thank MTA for its effort but urge further action to support riders.”

Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried (D-WFP), Manhattan) said: “For too many years the A and C trains have been the poor relative to the other MTA subway lines. I applaud the recommendations made today, but there is a lot more to be done.  We need newer trains, more frequent service at rush hours and weekends, the reopening of closed station entrances, and electronic signs on all subway platforms.  We also need a financing plan for these improvements.”

“New Yorkers deserve a 21st Century transportation system,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “The people of my district who rely on the A/C train have to endure delays, overcrowding, service disruptions and filthy stations for too long. I hope that the MTA will begin making significant capital improvements to the A/C line as soon as possible, so that New York can remain competitive in a global economy and our residents get the services that they deserve. I want to thank the Riders Alliance for its advocacy on this important issue.”

“Any Rockaway resident who takes the subway into the city knows that the A/C line needs more than a few improvements,” said Council Member Donovan Richards (D-Far Rockaway). “The rush hour commutes are some of the longest in the city, so an increase in service during those times is an absolute necessity. While the MTA’s suggested improvements will help, it is simply not enough.”

“As a daily C train commuter from Franklin Ave. in Brooklyn into Manhattan, I’m very disappointed there is no increase in service during rush hour. The trains are packed with little room to move at rush hour and the long wait time of 10 to 12 minutes regularly turns into 15 minutes. This strikes me as very short-sighted and a huge disservice to the thousands of riders like myself who rely on the C to get to and from work every day,” said Anthony Greene, a Riders Alliance member and Brooklyn resident.

“I’m glad that the MTA has conducted this Full Line Review and I thank all the elected officials who have rallied with us. As any C train rider knows, it can often be quicker and more reliable to walk than take your chances on the C. That’s why it’s especially disheartening to see the MTA considers the C train to be at an acceptable level of service. C train riders deserve a 21st century line on par with the rest of the system,” said Joe Salas, a member of the Riders Alliance and C train rider in Bed-Stuy.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Riders Alliance Members Release Thousands of Petitions from C Train Riders Calling for Better Service

At 1960s-Themed “#RetroRide” Rally, C Train Riders Highlight Outdated C Train Cars, Which Entered Service in 1964

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Brooklyn, NY— At a rally in Bedford Stuyvesant today, members of the Riders Alliance, elected officials, and community leaders announced the release of almost 3,000 petition signatures from C train riders, calling for improvements to the train. The petition, available online at, requests more frequent and reliable C train service, new C train cars and better communication with riders in stations and on trains. Riders will deliver the petitions to the MTA this week.

Riders at the “Retro Ride: Rally for a Better C Train” wore 1960s attire and accessories to highlight the need for new C train cars to replace the current cars, which were built in 1964— making them the oldest in the system. Riders were joined in their calls for improved service by NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assembly Member Walter Mosley, Council Member Robert Cornegy, Council Member Laurie Cumbo, and more.

The C train, rated the worst line by NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign 4 years in a row, runs at a frequency of 8-10 minutes in the morning rush, according to the MTA’s own schedule.  Other lines, like the F train, have a morning frequency of 4-6 minutes. Riders say the C train should run more often during rush hours.

The Riders Alliance has been organizing C train riders for more than a year to push for better service. The MTA announced in May 2014 that it would conduct a Full Line Review of the A and C trains, in response to a request from State Senator Daniel Squadron and grassroots pressure from Riders Alliance members. The report is expected to be complete in late 2015. Previous Full Line Reviews have led to service improvements on the F, L and G trains. Riders are organizing and rallying to guarantee that the MTA’s review leads to measurable improvements in equipment and service.


Riders Alliance member Shannon Christian, who lives off of the Kingston Throop C train stop in Bedford-Stuyvesant, said, “I rely on the C train to get to work every day and it’s terrible. As a young professional with a growing career, punctuality is important. The C train runs so infrequently in the morning that I’m often late to work. The crowding has gotten so out of control that riders who try to squeeze onto trains cause delays. If the trains ran more frequently, we’d see less crowding and delays. I pay the same fare as everyone else, so why do I feel like I’m getting stuck with the short end of the stick? Please MTA: improve my C train.”

“I’ve lived here for 59 years and service is getting as bad as it used to be,” said Riders Alliance member Berneda Jackson, who lives off of the Ralph Avenue C train stop in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “I take the C train to get to work and to bring my grandkids to activities. Sometimes, we’ve had to wait two hours to see Shakespeare in Bryant Park because the trains are delayed. The kids are so disappointed getting to events late – never mind getting to work late! I work in Downtown Brooklyn – supposedly 15 minutes away. But I have to leave 45 minutes to an hour because the trains are unreliable and infrequent. The only nice thing about the C train is that I make a lot of new friends while I’m waiting!”

“Riders on the C train need new cars and clean stations, but what they are getting is rush-hour crowding and poor communications,” said Gene Russianoff, a sometimes-C-train-rider and staff attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.

Representative Charles Rangel said, “I applaud The Riders Alliance for their leadership on this vital issue that affects all New Yorkers. New York City subways are among the most-used in the world but do not measure up to the standards of one of the world’s most important cities. A first-rate economy depends on efficiently moving goods and people. Our great City and its residents deserve trains and buses that run on time and a transportation system that is accountable to its riders.”

“Working families rely on public transit to get to and from work,” said Representative Nydia Velázquez. “The C train is badly out-of-date and we must invest the resources to upgrade it and ensure residents of this area have adequate service.”

“C train riders have ‘a look.’ Conductors know it, and fellow commuters know it. It’s part irritation and part contempt. As ridership increases on the C so does the duration between trains and frequency of break-downs. To add insult to injury, C train riders must sit and watch as the authority’s newest fleet of cars, capable of circumnavigating the Earth 15 times before needing repairs, pass them by day after day. When the C train arrives, riders board the oldest cars in the fleet at 51 years old, knowing they have two more years before new cars and better service arrive,” said Senator Martin Malavé Dilan.

“It’s a real problem when C train cars are about as fresh as the World’s Fair in Flushing,”

said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “I created Full-Line Reviews with the MTA to find cost- effective ways to make a real difference for riders. Together, we successfully pushed for a Full- Line Review of the A and C lines. I look forward to the results, and continuing to work with Riders Alliance and my colleagues to improve riders’ experience.”

“Families in southern Queens and Rockaway have the longest commute times in New York City. Neglecting our aging infrastructure has real consequences for our families’ ability to commute to work or school every day. By improving service and maintenance to the A and C lines, we can increase the resiliency of our transit system and strengthen our community’s vital lifeline to the rest of the city. I’m pleased to join the Riders Alliance and my colleagues in government to fight for the quality transit service we need and deserve,” said Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder.

“As Brooklyn moves forward into the 21st century our public transportation must keep pace with the increasing demand for fast, efficient, and reliable service,” said Assembly Member Walter Mosley. “We have seen an exponential increase of new members to our communities of central Brooklyn which in turn has put higher stress on our aging transportation system. Crowded platforms, dirty stations, and delay in services can no longer define outer borough service and that’s why I stand behind the full line review of the A and C lines.”

“The “A” and “C” trains are vital transportation lines to the residents and businesses in my Assembly District and beyond,” said Assembly Member Annette Robinson. “I have and will continue to vehemently encourage the MTA to make improvements to both Lines that will enhance the service for all “A” and “C” riders. I applaud the Riders Alliance for adding their voice to needed upgrades in service”

“In 1964, Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston, the Civil Rights Act was passed and the C trains New Yorkers ride today came into service. I enjoy history as much as anyone, but riding historical trains doesn’t make for the most reliable commute,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. “We call on the MTA to move central Brooklyn’s transit into this century by updating the trains & rider communications.”

“For millions of New Yorkers, public transportation is a lifeline that connects us to family, friends, patrons, colleagues, and peers. As a commuter city, we rely primarily on buses and trains to traverse the five boroughs swiftly. In order to sustain our city’s growing population and economy, we must allocate the necessary resources to upgrade our transit system and ensure reliable service,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.

“Boarding the C train is like stepping back in time,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “It’s unacceptable that with increasing fare hikes, C train service is the same as it was 50 years ago! New Yorkers deserve a 21st Century subway system which means a C line equipped with technology that can communicate services changes, emergencies, and other updates to riders. I would like to thank the Riders Alliance and everyone involved in the campaign for a better C train.”

“Half a century is too long to wait for new subway cars,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Residents along the C line deserve more frequent and reliable service from the MTA and the grassroots support mobilized by Riders Alliance demonstrates that communities are united in calling for increased support for the C train and our public transportation system as a whole.”

“Considering I’m a frequent rider of the A train, I see first-hand on a regular basis how badly we need better service on the A/C line,” Council Member Donovan Richards said. “Rockaway residents have one of the worst commutes in the city, so while any improvement to our main line into Manhattan would be a welcomed change, we must continue to rally for significant transportation upgrades.”

“My office hears about the poor service of the C line enough to know that a review of that subway line is warranted,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “As we encourage our city residents to rely on public transportation, it is our responsibility to provide the best service possible for everyone. The C train is no exception.”


March 6, 2015

Subway Riders Tweet: #IWantToC a Better C train

In Riders Alliance Online Day of Action, C Train Riders Tweet Complaints, Sign Petition for Better Service

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NEW YORK, NY—In an Online Day of Action today, members of the Riders Alliance, elected officials and community leaders are taking to social media to keep up the pressure in the campaign for a better C train.  More than 100 C train activists are expected to tweet an online petition and share it on Facebook today, with a goal of collecting more than 1,000 new petition signatures in an Online Day of Action.

Riders are using the hashtag #IWantToC to highlight the improvements they want to “C” on the train, and are sending fellow subway riders to the online petition  The online petition requests more frequent and reliable service, new C train cars and better communication with riders.

The Riders Alliance has been organizing C train riders for more than a year to push for better service.  The MTA announced in May that it would conduct a Full Line Review study of the A and C trains, in response to a request from State Senator Squadron and grassroots pressure from Riders Alliance members.  The report is expected to be complete in 2015.  Previous Full Line Reviews have led to service improvements on the F, L and G trains.

Riders Alliance members are using tweets, facebook posts and emails to drive fellow riders to the online petition  In today’s online day of action, some tweets that have gone out already include:


Riders Alliance @RidersNY 

riders need to C a better C train! Help us get to 3,000 petition signatures  #IWantToC

Laurie Cumbo ‏@cmlauriecumbo 

#IWantToC new cars and announcements I can hear! Sign@RidersNY petition for a better C train  @MTA

Theodore Moore @MooreProgress 

#IWantToC announcements that don’t sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher! Sign @RidersNY petition 4 better C train  @mta


Shannon Christian, a member of the Riders Alliance who lives off of the Kingston-Throop C train station in Bed-Stuy, said, “For riders in Central Brooklyn who depend on the C train, it’s anyone’s guess whether you’ll get where you need to on time. I wait for the C train every day and honestly, it’s a dreadful experience. The delays on the train make the platforms so crowded that my morning ritual is to compete with other passengers to make it inside the already packed train. The loser of the competition must wait for the next delayed train to make it into the station, and the cycle begins again.”


June 19, 2014


 Part Of Continued  Push To Improve Service Across The System

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NEW YORK – Today, State Senator Daniel Squadron and the Riders Alliance announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will undertake a Full-Line Review of the A and C lines at the urging of both the Senator and the group.

In a letter (LINK) to the MTA sent on April 30th, Senator Squadron asked the agency for an update on the status of Full-Line Reviews for all subway lines, something Chairman Prendergast had committed to do in his confirmation hearing last year. These reviews would follow those the MTA has already done for the F, L, and the G lines at Senator Squadron’s urging.

In addition, Riders Alliance grassroots members wrote to the MTA in March, requesting improvements to C train service and highlighting infrequent rush hour service, outdated train cars, dirty stations and insufficient communication with riders about delays and service changes. Members of the Riders Alliance have collected hundreds of petition signatures in support of better C train service.

In response to these actions, the MTA has initiated a review of the A and C lines. The MTA has said this review should be “completed sometime next year”. This review will help address the service issues A and C riders experience all too often. Past Full-Line Reviews have led to significant improvements within the MTA’s budget.

“The Full-Line Review of the A and C line – the longest in the system – is a big deal for riders,” said Senator Daniel Squadron. “Again and again Full-Line Reviews have improved service for riders within the MTA’s budget. I’m glad to have worked with the Riders Alliance on this and thank the MTA for heeding riders’ calls for this Full-Line Review.”

“The C train is notoriously crowded and infrequent, especially during the morning rush hour,” said John Raskin, Executive Director of the Riders Alliance. “Three times already, Senator Squadron’s Full-Line Reviews have improved service for transit riders. That’s why it’s so valuable to have a review of A and C train service, and why we appreciate Senator Squadron continuing his advocacy and the MTA agreeing to undertake this review and focus on improving these lines.”

Dupe Ajayi, a member of the Riders Alliance who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, said, “You never know what you’re going to get when you board a C train. It’s crowded, and dirty, and they don’t announce delays, so everything is a surprise. It’s time for a change for the C train. That’s why I’m glad the MTA has agreed to conduct a Full Line Review.”

Andrew Sloat, a member of the Riders Alliance who lives in Clinton Hill, said, “I use the C train to get to Penn Station for work. I try to leave extra time, but you can’t ever predict when there will be delays, and on the C train the delays can be frequent and last a long time. I guess the good news is that over the years, I’ve gotten a lot better at sprinting through Penn Station when the C train makes me late.”

In recent years, Senator Squadron has worked with the MTA to create the first-of-their-kind Full-Line Reviews. Those reviews resulted in more frequent and on-time trains and newer and cleaner subway cars along the F line beginning in 2009, increased service along the L line beginning in the summer of 2012, and improved service along the G line earlier this month.