Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two oddities.

One: On the way home last night on the N, I saw an MTA poster. This, in and of itself, is not unusual in the least. What it said, though, was quite surprising: that beginning in 2015, the Second Avenue Subway would be relieving overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue lines. I read it a few times to make sure I was reading it right. I knew there were new contracts out, but I had no idea that they'd be so ambitious as to give a date to the general public. And about the date? At this point, what's seven more years?

Two: Tonight on the way home, I happened to spy a 7 train as we were pulling out of Queensboro Plaza. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? An advertisement. On the outside of the train. Right there on the side of the car. Apparently at this point it's simply not enough to put them above subway entrances, along hallways and tunnels in stations, on platforms, on the ceilings of some stations, and inside of the train cars everywhere that there's not a window or a door. No, obviously, that isn't quite enough surface area. Hell, it's practically restriction of trade.

Personally, I prefer the graffiti.

Monday, October 13, 2008

G train attempt: post script.

Well, I tried it. And after 40 minutes and the passing of 13 trains, I was forced to conclude that the G train was not going to appear. I started to feel like this guy. Something else I noticed: the V train was running. Usually on federal holidays the trains run on a Sunday schedule, but I suppose that isn't possible if the V train was running... yeah, things on the subway, they's weird.

Over and out.

I'm gonna try it.

The G train, oh the G train. Conceived in brilliance - a train that will travel between Brooklyn and Queens without wandering through Manhattan on the way! Genius. Extremely obvious genius, since Brooklyn and Queens share a landmass and are really quite close together as the bird flies, and Manhattan is a separate island, but still - there is literally no other train that will make this amazing feat of a journey.

Sadly, neither will the G train. Not really. Not anymore.

OK, so even at the worst of times it does still *technically* go from Brooklyn to Queens. But it so barely skims Queens that it really barely even counts, stopping at Court Square in the bottom of Long Island City and then turning right around. Total crap says I, and says many of us, in fact - there's even a coalition determined to right this and other G train wrongs.

So why did this happen? How does a train's route become thus truncated? The simple fact is that trains are re-routed all the time; they switch termini (like the B and D did once upon a time, as did the N and R), they go through this tunnel instead of that one. The network of trains is a living organism, constantly reorganizing itself, theoretically with the purpose of best serving its riding population.

Things started getting rough for the G train in 1997 - "due to construction" - oldest story in the MTA bedside reader. Service landed itself a northern termination at Court Square on evenings, nights, and weekends then because of construction in the infamous 63rd street line. In 2001 when the Connection opened, the G train went back to regular service and everyone was happy forever and ever! Oh, wait, no. Actually, the V train was introduced, and suddenly there was no room for the G train on the Queens tracks. The E, the F, and the R already ran those same tracks; it was the G or the V, and the V won... because the V goes into Manhattan.

This is apparently when they came up with the brilliant plan of running the G its full distance at backwards times, on evenings, nights, and weekends - but with truncated trains. They took cars from each train so that there would be more trains overall coming more frequently... and nevermind that each one would be more crowded, and that they wouldn't reach the platform ends.

In 2007/2008, things have gotten really bad: they're stating that there will be no service to 71st Avenue in Forest Hills "until further notice". People, I believe that this is the end. I've ridden the G north of Court Square once or twice, but I truly don't know if it's ever going to happen again. I have to try though, and I'm going to try today.

You see, today is a federal holiday, in honor of some crazy Italian guy who was funded by an even crazier queen of Spain to sail a ship the wrong way to get to India - which he quite believed he had done. He then proceeded to victoriously "discover" a land where there were already tens of thousands of people living... who the English later showed up and promptly killed by any means possible up to and including sneezing on them. American History is awesome.

Anyway, point being that by some logic completely beyond us, sometimes on federal holidays things revert back to normal. All "construction" and other nonsense is suspended and things happen as they should. Trains run on a 'Sunday Schedule', and on Sundays the G should be stopping at the Broadway / Steinway stop, which happens to be a convenient 15 minute walk from my house. So, I'm gonna go there. And wait a while. And see if one comes by. If it does, well! I got myself a train ride. And if it doesn't, then there are grim realities that I must face.

Wish me luck! Here I go.