Yesterday, the subways were plagued by problems, from a track fire in Brooklyn that caused problems for the 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains to an investigation at Columbus Circle that held up B and C service. So, in the past week, the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 trains, plus B and C, have been affected. Number 1 train, you're next! (Gothamist actually hopes not.) The Brooklyn track fire was caused by garbage ignited by the third rail. Gothamist implores any inventors, tinkerers or high school students who want to win science competitions to please please please develop a machine that can sweep garbage off subway tracks. It's unclear who has been leaving garbage in subway tunnels (the MTA crews? the mole people? the rats?), but it is clear that track fires suck. The City Council will be convening a special meeting to discuss the state of the subways next week; at this point, it seems like the state of the subways needs to be a monthly meeting.

Besides making passengers wonder if they should budget an extra 15-20 minutes of commuting time to account for these problems, subway riders are pissed off about the perceived declining quality of service in the wake of higher subway fares. The NY Times notes that the on-time performance of the subways has declined "for the first time this decade": A .5% drop from 2002 to 2004. There's also a nice graph associated with the story; we liked the stats about what delays the subways (right): Most the problems have been signal and switch related, which isn't quite reassuring. Gothamist always marvels at how we really hate it when people hold the doors when we're inside the train car, but we love those people who hold the doors open for us when we're sprinting to make the train.

And the MTA is trying to get some more money from Albany, but given that the MTA and state are $6 billion apart, who knows what all this means.