'Worst Commute' award for woman stuck for two hours desperate for the loo

Award meant to push for subway investment

An advocacy group for city commuters on Tuesday awarded its first "Worst Commute of the Week" award to a librarian from the borough of Queens for her story of an agonising two-hour wait in a tunnel one stop from her home after skipping a restroom visit before leaving work.

The Riders Alliance awards are aimed at shaming New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state's Legislature into enacting a long-term plan to fund and fix the city's declining subway system.

The inaugural winner, City University librarian Jennifer Tang, recounted being trapped underground on a train when the last five minutes of her ride home from Manhattan to the Forest Hills neighborhood in the borough of Queens on January 20 deteriorated into two hours.

"I hadn't used the bathroom, figuring I only had a 30-minute commute from Manhattan to Queens," Tang, 49, said in an interview. Then the train stopped and an announcement warned of signal problems.

Subway speeds are now slower than they were in 1950

"Five minutes became 10 minutes, became 20 minutes, became one hour, became one hour and 50 minutes," said Tang, who was in pain and urgently hoping the subway would quickly reach her destination. "Now, before boarding the subway, even if it's for one stop, I use the bathroom."

The Riders Alliance invited commuters to share their stories using the hashtag #WorstCommute. Winners of the contest receive a chocolate replica of the MetroCard, which the subway system's roughly 6 million daily riders swipe to enter stations.

Cuomo, who controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the public agency that runs the subways, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Overall subway on-time performance has plummeted to 65 percent - a drop of 15 percentage points over the past several years and the worst of any major transit system in the world, the Riders Alliance said.

Train delays more than tripled from 2012 to 2017 and subway speeds are now slower than they were in 1950, it said.

Tang said January 20 incident stands out as a personal worst in a lifetime of subway riding: "Even in the '70s when I almost got mugged on the subway, I never had such as horrible experience on the train."


See our Comments Policy Comments are submitted under the express understanding and condition that the editor may, and is authorised to, disclose any/all of the above personal information to any person or entity requesting the information for the purposes of legal action on grounds that such person or entity is aggrieved by any comment so submitted. Please allow some time for your comment to be moderated.

Comments not loading? We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with javascript turned on.
Comments powered by Disqus