Does the G train suck?
The MTA publishes train service-change announcements by email. A few years ago, a smart guy named Pierre wrote a program to publish these email announcements on Twitter. A few days ago I wrote a program to pull the tweets in, parse them, and neatly file them into a database. Then graphed them out with R.
The results: Two years worth of service-announcements for the B, Q, F, G, and L trains that show a different side to a train we love to hate.
Side by side comparison of all negative service changes for easier comparison. Note that some trains run shorter routes, so you should expect them to have fewer problems.
The G train here is interesting: it is one of the most hated trains in the system. And yet, it had the fewest number of incidents of the entire sample.
“But hey, the G makes half the stops compared to the F train!” So I normalized the results to make it more Apples to Apples by dividing the number of incidents by the number of stations serviced.
Shockingly, the G train beats my workhorse favorites.. the Q and F.
MTA publishes it’s own statistics:
OTP - the percent of commuter trains that arrive at their destinations within 5 minutes and 59 seconds of the scheduled time.
Subway Wait Assessment - the percent of actual intervals between trains that are no more than the scheduled interval plus 25%. You can see more details on MTA Stat’s homepage.
The data suggests that the G line has fewer problems and arrives on time more consistently than other popular lines. So the idea that the G train sucks is unsupported by service-change announcement and arriving-on-schedule metrics. So why do people hate this line so much?
Edit: Now with more prongs!
My shot in the dark guess is the G-hate is
3 pronged 4 pronged:
- G train run through popular areas whose commuters are more vocal, visible, and stay out later. Catching a train after a party at 3am is much more painful than catching it sober at 7pm.
- Some of the G train stops are packed with rats. An extra minute there is more excruciating compared to a station that merely smells like piss, or is perhaps outdoors.
- The few service changes that the G suffers are actually more debilitating to the commuter because of a lack of good alternatives. Coming home late form work? Sorry you gotta take the shuttle bus!
This being the only Brooklyn cross-town train means if the G is down, you go from a 20 min train ride to a 1+ hour bus ride (if you can catch the bus). That stays with you.
- The G is a very short line with an average wait-time equal to a much longer line. There may be an optimum waiting time vs travel time that the G is violating. (more on this soon)
Edit: I’m responding to suggestions with a Part 2.