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The MTA's best and worst moments of 2011


MTA Credit: Getty Images

It's been an odd and bumpy ride for straphangers this year.

There was the unprecedented system-wide shutdown to avoiding anticipation of Hurricane Irene, the sudden departure of MTA head and countdown clock advocate Jay Walder and even a subway rat chomping down on a waiting rider's foot.

But on the bright side, underground cell phone service was switched on at a handful of stations, real-time bus trackers have gone live along some routes and fares didn't go up again.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said some of the MTA's problems are the result of "outside forces," specifically budget cuts from Albany lawmakers, while others are "self-inflected wounds." Either way, the cash-strapped transit agency's finances "are wack," Russianoff concluded.

The campaign put together its list of the agency's highs and lows for the year, finding it to be "both the best of times and the worst of times" for city buses and subways.

Riders interviewed Tuesday by amNewYork also had mixed reviews for the agency.

"It's still the best ways to get around," said Alana Barrett-Adkins, 23, as she waited for an uptown A train at W. 4th Street Tuesday afternoon. "It's always quick... It's comfortable, there's air conditioning and the heat works."

Rider Derrick Thompson, who lives in downtown Manhattan, said he was tired of service changes.

"The nighttime and weekend repair projects have been a huge inconvenience this year," said Thompson, 40. "I know it needs to be done, but they need to figure out how to actually make it work with the people paying for those repairs: the rider."

The Straphangers Campaign's top ten worst New York City transit events in 2011:

1. For the second year in a row, the state government diverted money from accounts meant to fund transit — a net $100 million.

2. The state legislature voted exemptions to the MTA payroll tax at an unknown cost to its riders.

3. With little hope of new funds, the MTA is proposing $7 billion more in borrowing to pay for its capital projects.

4. Aged trains on C line won’t be retired until at least 2017, when they are 53 years old.

5. The MTA is over budget and behind schedule on the Second Avenue subway and East Side Access, federal officials say.

The top ten best events:

1. There was no subway, bus and commuter fare hike after three straight years of increases (but the agency says there will be one in 2012).

2. Faster bus service arrived on the M34.

3. Some of the massive service cuts from 2010 were restored in 2011.

4. MTA launched the Weekender site, with easy-to-understand maps showing how to get around construction and shutdowns over the weekend.

5. Riders can now track the real-time location of some bus routes by cell phone. The whole system will eventually have the service.

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