The words "C train service could be suspended for as up to five years" do not make Gothamist's Monday depression any better. Yet that's what the NYC Transit is saying, after yesterday's fire at Chambers Street. Officials say a homeless man ignited a "shopping cart full of wood" on the southbound tracks, and not only will A service will totally messed up for a while, it seems that the fire "destroyed approximately 600 electrical devices used to control signals along the Eighth Avenue line." Damaged control signals - yikes. That's probably why replacing the signals will take millions of dollars. This is in addition to all the subway problems this past weekend, partly caused by the blizzard (frozen tracks, malfunctioning switches). The Straphangers' Gene Russianoff pointed out that the NYCT division of the MTA "says, 'Tough luck, buddy'" while the LIRR, also run by the MTA, emails updates and apologies about delays and service advisories. [Related: Joe Schumacher has a telling photograph of subway service from the weekend.]

Gothamist has been noticing a lot of features lately about people having crap times navigating the NYC subways, to drive home the point that the MTA's fare hike still doesn't mean service is where it should be; here's one from the Daily News and one from Newsday that details a woman's attempt to find a station attendant because she dropped her purse onto the tracks. And free subways are part of Christopher Brodeur's mayoral platform.

How will this C line mess affect your commute? How do you cope with subway problems (iPod, book, candy, or finding someone to develop a crush on)? Gothamist on Mayor Bloomberg's subway delay, plus Ask Gothamist on why the A/C/E tracks are weird at 34th Street and whether lights outside the subway entrances mean anything.