The morning commute hours (and the hours after a 'delay' status has been cleared) are usually marked by very crowded platforms and trains. Even though the trains are 'on-time' and showing up every 3-5 minutes, there is no room to squeeze on, and you may need to let a few trains pass before getting on one successfully.
A 15 minute train 'delay' during the morning commute could cause an hour+ of backed up platforms and people unable to squeeze on. I think this kind of delay is where a lot of the displeasure with L line service is centered.
I'm extremely happy with the location — it's arguably the most well-positioned area of Brooklyn. Almost everything of interest is 20 minutes or less away: Union Square, Village, SoHo, Midtown, and also transportation hubs like Penn Station and Grand Central. Greenpoint and Long Island City are both a super quick ride, and while south Brooklyn takes longer to get to, I can get to Fort Greene in 17 minutes, and Park Slope in 30. (The most egregious lacuna is to Brooklyn Heights and the surrounding area, but the ferry service is very enjoyable, and the bus is not bad either.)
The main overcrowding occurs during rush hour on the Bedford Ave. and Lorimer St. stops, the former of which is the only stop in a very dense area of recent urban (over)development. Lorimer isn't as bad, and it gets progressively much better the farther out you are.
Of course that was not sustainable long term, but most people didn't think about that, or didn't care.
I work with some of these people, but live in upper Manhattan. I spend a LOT of time commuting to Brooklyn.
Access to an Internet connection to email mom and dad in the Midwest and ask for more money for rent is also a common preoccupation along the L train corridor set.
The tough problem isn't always capacity either. Small disruptions have cascading consequences. This is where I believe a lot of the limitations in service come from since there is rarely a day w/o a single problem. As many others have pointed out in the past, this can largely be traced to the topological properties of the subway lines. The MTA's insistence in growing just a few large bottlenecks rather than disperse them is telling of the problems we'll be living with for decades or centuries longer.
At some point, I think the improved bus service initiatives are our only real hope of directly addressing the transportation problems in NYC. It might seem ludicrous in Manhattan but it certainly has its place and in the other boroughs, it can be a huge improvement when line selection is limited.
See 'A Subway Named Mobius'  for some of the problems this might cause in the future!
Yes, for subways that means less cars too. That is an extra (and very big) benefit, but don't think it's bad on other contexts.
Also, you can transfer from the M to a whole bunch of other train lines depending on where you are going. It's not the best, but it isn't terrible either.
Yes I know, not a useful response. I'd prefer not to have to squeeze
What a weird way to phrase that.
No surprise with the L train as its the only one that is automated(despite having a conductor on board.) They refuse to let it run un-manned which begs the question why did they spend the hundreds of millions of dollars to automate the line? There are plenty of places with unmanned subway lines. There's one in Tokyo and I believe Barcelona and Copenhagen.
I guess its no surprise that their API would be mess as thats about sums up the culture at MTA from what I can tell.
The MTA is spending hundreds of millions of dollar to put arrival clocks in all stations. The problem with is that I want to know how long it is before the next train arrives before I pay for a fare. I have to pay for a fare in order to go onto the platform to find out the next train won't arrive for anther 20 minutes. At this point I have needlessly paid for a fare and generally walk back up stairs and take a taxi.
When they were questioned about this poor decision they responded it was because of terrorism that they couldn't put train arrival times outside the entrance. That makes zero sense.
The times displayed on those clocks is available here: http://apps.mta.info/traintime/ or via the official app http://web.mta.info/apps/subwaytimeapp.html
Unless you are on the rare above ground station this is the general layout.
Not to sidestep your question, but do you live in NYC and not use the unlimited pass? I'd assumed everyone did.
The plan was to take out even the operator, but unions kept the train operator in.
How about retired people or people on a fixed income that are not work commuters?
How about someone that works in their neighborhood but still needs to use mass transit occasionally?
How about students that largely don't leave their campus tether but still need to use mass transit albeit less frequently than a commuting professional?
How about someone who bikes as their primary means of transit but still needs to use mass transit infrequently?
Its not really unusual at all is it?
So if you can't afford or don't need to purchase an unlimited subway that's your problem?
The countdown clocks are generally accurate, but in certain situations they are surprisingly off.
I would love to see someone use this data to improve arrival predictions – a regression, say, based on features such as time of day (a proxy for crowding), weather, holidays, nearby events (concerts & sports), maintenance or signal problems...
I assume the clocks use something as simple a static numbers representing the time between adjacent stations or segments. They presumably don’t tolerate deviations from crowding or other unexpecteds.
The poisson process is the first (continuous time) point process discussed in many textbooks because the counting increments are identically distributed, since the rate parameter is a constant. You can think that in the case of modeling waiting times for subway trains, a better model is with the rate parameter that is dependent on time, since the inter arrival times are smaller during rush hour than when the subway is closed.
You can read about this in Bertsekas, and more thoroughly in Parzen or Cox's books on stochastic processes.
I should know since I ride it every day.
2. The waiting time by line is flawed because the other lines are redundant to each other (corresponding colors) but the L is a single line so waiting times should be shorter.
since you wouldn't be able to download this calculator in stations w/o data server