Archive for the ‘Subways and Buses’ Category

Bloomberg: Buses, Pushes and Dashing

hizzoner mayor bloomberg

hizzoner mayor bloomberg

 I walked outside my office building at 1 pm and found many people staring at a giant bus. I noticed there were camera crews. My first thought: car crash.

Then I saw shortie Mayor Bloomberg step out of the bus looking like a celebrity. I was so close to him while talking to my mom on the phone that a member of his security squad about 4 times hizzoner’s size shoved me out of the way saying “can’t stand here folks.”

bus stop indicators of arrivals

bus stop indicators of arrivals

Photos of the event thanks to a vegan in brooklyn – not that one. Oh the big deal was that now you’ll know how late your bus is arriving at select stops in NYC.

New Subway Grates

New Grates (Photo: David W. Dunlap/The New York Times)

New Grates (Photo: David W. Dunlap/The New York Times)

Over the past few weeks at Hillside Avenue and 179th street, a new wave of subway grates are hitting the sidewalks. They are big, skew the bus line where I stand daily and really interesting seeming.

These new grates are meant to prevent subway flooding. D’uh!

I thought that they were meant for people to keep from throwing stuff down into the subway…or maybe something to do with air purification?

But now I know that they’re there so that when a few inches of rain falls next time, the F train will still continue to run instead of shutting down thousands of commuters.

Hooray for the future. The future being right now.

Dear Bus Drivers, Slow Down for Ice

Today on the bus ride home, I got freaked.

  1. I realized that when a bus is 11 minutes late and it’s below freezing outside, time seems to slow down.
  2. I realized that standing on ice makes you colder.
  3. I realized was that bus drivers should not speed when it’s snowing and there is ice on the ground.

And if they do speed, they should give themselves enough time to brake for red lights – instead of carrying on with their speed through red lights…

Bus drivers in Queens, if you’re reading this, please for the love of life, do NOT speed after it has just snowed.

I’ll appreciate it. Mmk, thanks.

On the Subway, watch out and help out!

Two days back, my mom got on the subway as per usual and started listening to her iPod. Some lady apparently leaned in towards her constantly and she wasn’t asleep. Finally, she began feeling the lady poking her from the side as in to get her attention.

She was a complete stranger poking another one. She asked, “Is your company hiring? I’m looking for a job.”

My mom made her aware of the fact that her company had fired 22 people the week prior to and there were no jobs available. And the woman began telling her story of misery. Her husband had lost his job and there was not enough money to pay the bills and so forth.

This continued back and forth until the train ride ended.

Yesterday, 8:15 am, E train Union Tpke

I got on the train and was listening to the iPod. This was one of the newer E trains – the ones that look like the 6 and L trains – and it was jam packed. There was no room to move about and being only 5’5 I still had to opt to hang on to the handles right above me instead of to my sides.

There was a young couple chatting flirtatiously (even though it was professional) and though there was room I could not hang on in between them as my hand would distract their conversation.

Behind me, I was not aware of what was going on, but apparently my body may have touched another man’s body. This man was about 6’1 and ugly looking. All of a sudden through the melodious sound in my iPod I hear a cankerous growl

“So what! I don’t exist huh? I don’t exist huh?” he began wailing. “You could just push me right? I don’t exist huh?” And I signaled to him that I had my iPod on and also, I don’t speak during the mornings…I take a vow of noble silence. So, with a smile I pointed to my iPod and the crowd to signal that there were a lot of people on the train and it would be next to impossible for me to avoid any sort of touching.

Well, this got him angrier, “Take them off so you can hear me!!!!!!!” and then he did what I did not expect at all, he actually physically elbowed me.

Me being in noble silence – which is a semi-meditative state – I just smiled accepted and turned around. From Union Tpke to Lexington Ave. 53rd street, not a single person got off that E train, including that man and me.

Free Bridges — Will They Be History?

It was always nice to have the option– pay for the Midtown Tunnel and get to the Village or Midtown faster, or battle with 59th Street Bridge or the BQE, and the crowded Williamsburg Bridge — but save the toll. Sometimes, it was six of one and half-a-dozen of the other, because you could burn so much gas on the BQE backup that you might as well have paid the tolland sometimes the choice was clear. But you had the choice!

Now, they want to put a toll on previously-free bridges, as an alternative to raising MTA fares. When I first heard, it seemed like a plan; we should be taking more mass-transit anyway! And of course, Bloomberg now has a platform to yell at us like naughty children — on the news, he said something like “See? I had the perfect solution — congestion pricing — and you didn’t want that” Okay, Uncle Mike — we get the point. So here’s another way we can stick it to the “bridge-and-tunnel” crowd.

But here’s what I want to know: let’s say they DO work out a method to collect tolls [since toll-booths are near-impossible, they are talking about a machine that will read your license plate, and bill the driver later — good luck!], how high do we have to raise the stakes before people WILL say “hmmm…..this is just like congestion-pricing after all. AND, congestion pricing wasn’t supposed to be in effect on the weekends anyway. Are they thinking of making the 59th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges free on weekends? My guess is “no”.

In other words, was it the intention all along to present options to the “bridge-and-tunnel” crowd [of which I am one, by the way] that turn out to be just as bad, or even worse for private cars, than congestion pricing? And how high can the stakes go, before car-dependent suburbanites will finally load their families onto commuter railroads for their day in the city? What is the tipping point when private drivers will leave the cars home?

The Brooklyn Bridge is now free, but would charge a toll under the new proposed plan

The Brooklyn Bridge is now free, but would charge a toll under the new proposed plan

When does this train come?

One of my biggest issues with the subways are that you never really know when they run. When taking a bus, there is always a schedule at the stop which gives you an estimate as of when a bus might come, but I did not see something like that on the subway – maybe yet.

Of course I could check out the tripplaner website beforehand, but let’s reserve my beef with the tripplanner for another blog post.

So while I am really glad that the subway system runs all around the clock, I have also found myself numerous times standing on a platform in the middle of the night wondering when my dear train comes to bring me home. Just add to the uncertainty of time, the uncertainty about the overall service (“It’s the weekend, does the 2, 3 stop here?”), rats and all kind of weird people to make this experience a lasting one.

Last weekend I went out with some friends in Williamsburg and to get their I took a L-Train from Manhattan to Bedford Avenue and I noticed that the L is the first one of all the lines I’ve used that actually displays the time of when the next train runs right on the platform. At least in Brooklyn.

And while I was waiting for the the train at Spring St, they kept announcing an ETA for the next train every three minutes. Not that you need it so often, but it’s still a nice service.

So this is still pretty rare for NYC and the system is probably a pilot. All the people I talked to about it so far were joking about the MTA raising prices soon to compensate the spending on the panels. ;) Even though I oppose raising the prices (Of course!), I feel like this system is long needed.

Does anyone share my enthusiasm and know more?

Thank you leather pants lady

Yesterday while riding the quiet E train, a woman who was handicapped started smoking a cigarette on the train. No one got up no one complained. The doors opened at 71st Continental Avenue, some of the smoke exited the car. A few minutes later, she started smoking another cigarette. Again, no one complained, a lot of heads turned, but that was it.

She was in violation of the MTA NYC Transit code – Disorderly Conduct would have been the charge she could suffer.

This evening on the Queens bound F train, a woman had placed a giant shopping bag on the seat next to hers. I wanted to sit on this seat – even though there were other empty spots. So I squeezed on, having a portion of my behind take up a tiny bit space that remained empty on the chair. The woman proceeded to remove the shopping bag and got up.

“Thank you,” I said to her. “You’re welcome,” she responded with some bitterness in her voice.

Nice leather pants by the way, lady.

Vulgar comments on hopstop

HopStop has become the MapQuest for those without a car, needing to get around the city. I use it all the time but had never checked their ratings of trains feature before today. And what do I notice but superbly stereotypical, nearly racist & vulgar statements in the comments section.

Luckily there’s a button that allows you to request removal of comments. But in one of the most diverse cities in the world, it’s difficult to imagine that this sort of idiocy still runs rampant.

An example of a comment for the F train is below:

out of 10
Yo Lamar is that you. Its Jerome whats happening my man? You gots your self a job at McDonalds that be real nice. I bets you be eating good. I is still smokin the rock man, tryin to gets clean but it aint easy. Yo you be ridin the F thats where I stay some nights. You got to show a brother some love and say what up. Can i get 5 dollar?
Fri, Aug 1, 2008, by Jerome Whitmen Request removal of this revie

Advantages of a Seatless Subway Car

Okay, so it’s no secret anymore: the Transit Authority is about to roll out a new experiment– subway cars with folding seats, which will be locked in the up position during rush hour. In other words, a seatless subway car, or standing room only. For many riders, this is no big deal; they never get a seat anyway. For others, it’s the ultimate insult from a TA that constantly raises fares and doesn’t seem to improve service. The TA says a car without seats will provide more space for more riders. This is the obvious advantage. But what are some other benefits? Following is a list I came up with; see if you can contribute your own:
1] No smelly bums laying out, taking up seats.
2] Less chance of someone falling asleep next to you and falling in your lap.
3] More difficult for the riders who do their personal care on the subway, especially the annoying people who insist on clipping nails on board.
4] Don’t have to worry about giving your seat to the elderly or pregnant
5] Less likely to have someone next to you eating their greasy food.

Metrocard updated

I was POd recently when my Metrocard deducted the cost of a new fare when I transferred from the N22 bus to the F train. The N22 is a semi-express bus that goes from Long Island to 179th street station.

But apparently, according to the letter that the MTA sent to me, no new money had been deducted from my account since my balance remained the same. Now, I don’t recall all the details but I was pretty sure that I was ripped off. But now all I have is this MTA letter with a “sincere apology” for inconveniencing me.

But what I read in the letter was something that was absurd. To transfer from 1 bus to another is free, but to transfer onto an express bus is $3.

That’s understandable if you’re going from Queens to Manhattan, but what about the short trips taken from a local bus to an Express bus to travel only a few blocks? Unfair.

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