BY JACLYN JEFFREY-WILENSKY
A Forest Hills woman has won a transit advocacy group’s Worst Commute of the Week Contest, organizers announced on Tuesday.
Jennifer Tang, who has been commuting to Manhattan from Forest Hills for 10 years, wrote to organizer Riders Alliance last week with a harrowing tale.
“I was in a hurry to get home and didn’t use the bathroom, figuring my 30-minute commute from Manhattan to Queens wasn’t going to be so bad,” Tang wrote.
She was less than one stop away from home when the train shuddered to a halt, citing “signal problems” at 71st-Continental Avenue.
The train idled in the tunnel between the 63rd Drive and 67th Avenue stations for two hours, according to Tang. In pain and increasingly frantic, she could do nothing but wait.
“By the time the train pulled into the 67th Avenue station, I had to run to a nearby Starbucks in order to pee,” Tang wrote. “It was unbelievable and I still have post-traumatic stress syndrome from this incident.”
The experience, Tang wrote, made her a much more cautious commuter.
“Now, before boarding the subway, even if it’s for one stop, I use the bathroom before I get on the torture chamber that is the MTA subway,” she wrote.
Described by Riders Alliance as “a new metric for the human side of the disaster that riders are experiencing every day,” the weekly contest is intended to raise awareness about the state of New York’s aging public transit system.
Tang, a librarian for the CUNY system, is the contest’s first winner. She and future champions will receive a prize: a colorful, larger-than-life chocolate MetroCard.
Riders Alliance said that it intends to present the worst stories to members of the state legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“With six weeks remaining in this year’s budget negotiations, all eyes are on the governor, who names MTA leadership, appoints more members to the MTA board than anyone else and dominates the state budget process,” said Riders Alliance in a statement announcing the contest’s winner.
The announcement coincided with day of especially bad delays for Queens travelers. On Tuesday morning, amNewYork reported signal problems at Queens Plaza and Fifth Avenue-59th Street that stalled the E, F, N, Q, R and W, lines, forcing riders onto overcrowded buses and 7 trains.
Asked about Tuesday’s winner, the MTA had no comment.
“Today, 50,000 New York City Transit employees moved nearly six million people on the subway and 2.5 million bus riders,” said MTA Communications Director Jon Weinstein in a statement issued in response to the creation of the contest. “They operated trains, fixed signals and switches, repaired track, navigated the clogged streets of New York City and helped customers find their way – that’s what we’re focused on.”