F line gets a C-minus

It may be called the F line on transit maps, but you can call it the C-minus train from now on.

More than 10,000 subway riders filled out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s “Rider Report Card” for the beleaguered F train — and the results, released on Nov. 29, speak for themselves.

This line needs help.

But it won’t get any in the short term, said Transit spokesman Charles Seaton.

“The purpose of the report cards is to see what the perception of our service is [by riders],” he said.

Riders perceive it pretty badly.

“I would have given it a D. For the last six months it was horrible,” said Joyce Hardy Smith, who complained about delays and wait times.

But most riders were a little more generous than Smith.

The grades for 21 categories include:

• Adequate room on board at rush hour: D.
• Reasonable wait times: C–.
• Minimal delays during trips: C–.
• Sense of security on trains and stations: C–.
• Station announcements easy to hear: D.
• Metrocard machines: B– (highest grade).

These results, though less than glowing, are typical of the entire system and are therefore not necessarily a useful tool for comparing the lines against each other.

Of the 11 subway lines, only the 42nd Street shuttle got into B territory (B–) and no line failed (the C train got the lowest grade, a D).

In general, F riders were harshest about crowding (surprise) and the PA announcements.

In spite of the F’s lowly “D” on rush hour crowding, the so-called Culver local, whose route from Coney Island to Jamaica, Queens, takes it under Prospect Park, along Ninth Street and then underneath Smith Street, isn’t that bad compared to other lines.

According to a report this year from the Straphangers Campaign, 56 percent of passengers can get a seat on the F during rush hour, compared to 48 percent for the entire system.

The line’s grade might fall off in the future. In 2009, the MTA will begin years of trackwork along the elevated section between Fourth Avenue and Carroll Street, work that will include shutting down the Smith–Ninth Street station for nine months in 2010.

But as The Brooklyn Paper reported, that station and Fourth Avenue will be completely renovated, and the track work might eventually lead the way to an F-express train.

Grading on a curve

Days after the MTA gave the F train a C– grade, we asked straphangers for their opinion.

Bergen Street
Juan Pablo Lombana: “B. It’s pretty good, but it gets crowded at rush hour.”

Carroll Street
Essi: “C+. It’s okay on weekdays, but the weekends are awful. And it’s hot and noisy.”

Smith–Ninth Street
Myrian: “During the week it’s like a B, but on the weekend it’s a D.”

Fourth Avenue
Sarah Sirato: “It’s good sometimes, but it’s horrible at other times. It’s a finicky train. I’d give it a C+.”

Seventh Avenue
Rob Malko: “Overall, I’d give it a B. It’s on time for the most part, but it’s always crowded.”

— Interviews and photos by Mike McLaughlin