Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
Will it be a smiley-face or crying-face kind of day?
Agony is a stranger’s putrid, damp armpit smothering your nose and mouth during a sweltering rush-hour journey. After 20 minutes of sweating through your work clothes on a crowded platform, you’re still waiting for the local train to lurch on through.
Short of shaking up your commute routine, there’s not a whole lot you can do to skirt this daily nightmare—but at least you can brace yourself for it by knowing exactly what pit of despair you’re descending into.
And now it’s possible to assess the situation before you head underground. New York City’s WNYC recently launched a Live Subway Agony Index, which chronicles delays in real time. The conditions correspond with emojis. Acceptable wait times receive a smiley face. Delays elicit unbridled weeping. (So do stations where more passengers enter than exit, based on turnstile data.) The tracker is currently available for the MTA’s numbered lines.
Since the MTA averages about 44,000 train delays per month, amNewYork reported, you can expect a to see more than a few disembodied sobbing faces.