Queens Subway Platforms Plagued by Broken Lights, Report Says

Queens has more broken lighting fixtures in its subway stations than anywhere else in the city, according to a report recently released by the New York Public Interest Research Group Straphangers Campaign.

In the group’s third annual “State of the Platforms” report, it determined that platforms throughout the city are plagued by rats, substantial peeling paint, water damage, and broken lights. About 13 percent of Queens stations have rats, 42 percent have broken lighting fixtures, 71 percent have substantial peeling paint, and 85 percent have substantial water damage, according to the report.

“We found what many riders know from bitter daily experience: Many subway platforms are grim and dreary,” said Jason Chin-Fatt, the Straphangers Campaign field organizer who oversaw 20 staff members and interns who rated 862 platform conditions between June 4 and Aug. 21 of this year. “Making observations at every platform allows us to paint a more in-depth picture of the conditions that riders experience travelling through the system.”

The group’s first two surveys were based on a random sample of subway platforms, and the current document is an assessment of the all subway stations in the city, except for those that were closed or under construction.

In all the Straphangers Campaign released findings on 12 subway platform conditions, including the absence of garbage cans, overflowing garbage cans, broken handrails and staircases, exposed wiring, peeling paint, substantial water damage, floor cracks, rats, large garbage bags on platforms, broken light fixtures, and missing tiles.

The study did find that virtually every platform throughout the five boroughs had at least one garbage can and few platforms had overflowing garbage or trash bags on the platform. Substantial peeling paint was a significant issue, plaguing 74 percent of the platforms, and 82 percent of the spots had significant water damage. About 39 percent of the sites had floor cracks, 32 percent had graffiti and 26 percent had missing tile. Rats were a problem at 13 percent of the platforms.

Since last year, four of nine conditions observed by the campaign appear to have “grown substantially worse,” including exposed wiring, missing tile, graffiti and floor cracks.  Five of the categories were slightly better or stayed about the same, including: rats, broken lighting, damaged handrails and staircases, peeling paint, and water damage.

“The data we collected tells a grim tale about some conditions riders face while on subway platforms,” Chin-Fatt said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has defended its stations and has stressed that the agency has undertaken significant efforts to deal with trash and eliminate rodents.

By Anna Gustafson


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