By Jonathan Sperling
The winners of this bingo game are still losing — their patience, that is.
Fed up with lackluster transit service, Queens commuters and activists expressed their train disdain with a game of "#FixTheSubway BINGO" in Jackson Heights on March 10.
Hosted by grassroots commuter advocate group Riders Alliance, the game enabled commuters to tell their unique stories of transit frustration, whether it be with the unreliability of the F train, or the crowded Q33 bus. The activists used the transit gripes to fill up their bingo boards as they rode the subway across the borough.
“Our subways are in desperate need of repair. Straphangers need a public transportation that is more efficient, more accessible, and works for them and we cannot wait any longer. We need to secure a congestion pricing plan in this year's budget that will put revenue in a lockbox for repairs on our subways," said State Sen. Jessica Ramos. "Riders Alliance has been a tireless advocate for all straphangers and I am committed to passing a congestion pricing plan to ensure our public transportation system works for working people."
The game began at the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue subway station, the juncture of the E, F, M, R and the No. 7 trains as well as a number of buses. After the bingo game's kickoff, players rode to Flushing and Forest Hills, filling the board with common complaints, including getting stuck on the train while en route to an important event and experiencing signal problems "day in and day out," according to Riders Alliance Communications Director Danny Pearlstein.
"I rely on the subway to commute for work from Queens to Manhattan. Once, the F train was stuck for more than 15 minutes and I was late for work. There are so many people who suffer like I do, but don’t have a voice," Yunqiao Wang, a Riders Alliance member, said. "Playing #FixTheSubway BINGO is a way to educate riders so that we can make a change together by supporting congestion pricing and a funding plan to finally fix the subway.
The "winning" bingo cards from the game were sent to state legislators on March 12 in an appeal to pass congestion pricing ahead of the April 1 state budget deadline.