Monday, November 1, 2010
I want to show you pictures, but I can find nothing in the public domain. You'll just have to check out the link.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
There was nothing so extraordinary about today's rides. The morning Q was of average crowding and pace, just tinged with the ridiculous pain of my back. Seriously people, can someone please get me a new lumbar spine?
My evening ride home, at nearly exactly 6pm, was almost bizarrely empty. I had to stand through the tunnel, but had my pick of seats at QBP. I was somewhat suspicious that we must be behind another train, but we were moving at a nice normal clip.
But then, between 30th Ave and Astoria Blvd, we engaged in some classic Astoria shenanigans. I was riding in the very first car of the train - it is my habit to always be at one end of the train or the other, given that it's the habit of nearly everyone else to be in the middle. So I could see that indeed, we were immediately behind another train. Kudos to the driver, I must say - that usually results in a jolted and aggravating ride. So, stacked in front of us were not just that one train but of course two more up at Ditmars.
I'm not sure what happens up there - whether they can't turn them around faster or just won't, adhering strictly to the "schedule" rather than clearing a slot for the train that they can clearly see is approaching, which will be stopped dead and hold up the trains behind it if not allowed to proceed... I'm sure some personnel switchouts have to happen up there, of drivers, conductors, what have you. I will not humor any arguments of "cleaning", as I've seen the state the trains are in when they leave Ditmars. They do, occasionally, mop. It's... fascinating. But seriously, the schedule - does the MTA truly believe there's someone down at 34th Street saying to himself, oh my, I simply must make the 6:27 N! Just really not sure what the thought process is there.
So there we sat for a few minutes, hanging in the air above 31st Street between 30th Ave and Astoria Boulevard, just waiting for the three trains in front of us to rearrange themselves. These sorts of blockages are enormously frustrating when you're waiting for a city-bound train at Astoria - you can see them just sitting at Ditmars, you can see that they need to leave Ditmars so that the trains coming in from the city have somewhere to go, and yet they still won't come pick you up. It begins to feel like a conspiracy orchestrated specifically to fuck with you. On the way home, it's only truly frustrating if you're stopped for long enough that you could have walked home from the previous stop. It happens.
This is just how we do things here in Astoria. Apparently, we like it this way.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Anyway. It was an uneventful ride for a Monday morning. Nothing too crowded, which is always nice. Dealing with a mess on a Monday just puts a bad taste in your mouth. It probably helped that I was headed out a bit earlier than usual. First day in the new office digs, you know - must see what there is to be seen.
The evening, though, I was timed just wrong. The trains seem to travel in little packs: an R and then two yellows, pick your designation; then a good five-to-eight minutes of nothing at all. Frankly I think the two yellows get stuck behind the Rs - the trains are older, and because they cover such a huge swath of Queens they have a large and diverse ridership. Also, because they come first, they pick up all of the Manhattan hop-on-hop-offs, including the tourists - and we love y'all and everything but you take FOREVER to figure out where you're going, saying things like, Wait, are we getting off at 42nd Street or Times Square?! Adorable, the lot of you. Ahem. Tonight, as has happened so many times, I got down to the 59th Street platform in time to wait several minutes with a large pack of tired and impatient riders, only to see that good old R pull on up. At least this does tend to have the effect of clearing the station out a good bit.
If I was smarter, or had more faith that there really was "another train directly behind this one", or any more patient than everyone else, I would have just let the first yellow train pass. I am not and don't have any of those things. So I got on the semi-full Q train that pulled up next and figured I'd suffer through it, get the hell home. See, I think at this point that I really may have a bulging disc in my lower back. I need to go for an MRI - yeah, sure, I'll squeeze that in just as soon as I stop having appointments for the effing kidney stones. Anyway, my pain must have been etched on my face, because a nice man offered me his seat. I kind of love him. Good thing he did, because if he hadn't I probably would have had to stand the whole way home.
One down. Four to go. Somebody give me a watermelon mojito.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
I would like to discuss with you an anomaly. Fellow New Yorkers may recall, in recent memory in fact, the year or so that was spent putting an elevator into the 57th Street station, located at 57th and 7th Avenue. Seriously, it took for freaking ever. And drove me MAD, because of course I go to that station once a week, and of course they had to install the elevator on the corner where I usually enter and exit the station. Which means that somewhere in the neighborhood of 52 times I had to cross 7th Avenue when I shouldn't have needed to, damnit, because due to the construction the stairwell was closed. But I'm all for ADA compliance and wheelchair accessibility, so I sucked it up for the greater good.
Imagine my surprise when the wonderful new elevator was unveiled... and it didn't get anywhere near the trains. No, the elevator descends to the mezzanine where one can purchase a Metrocard or speak with a booth attendant, should one actually be stationed there. However, there is still a full case of stairs to descend before you'll be at the train platform.
If anyone can explain this to me, I'd really love to hear it. As far as I can tell, the MTA spent who even knows how many tens of thousands of dollars building an elevator so that people in wheelchairs can... look at a station? I've been trying to get a peek to see if maybe there's a secret way down and out onto the platform that I'm just not seeing somehow, but if there is it's secret like the Batman cave. And only allows access to the Downtown platform.
Perhaps the first elevator was only phase one...? But as of now, there is no sign of any continuing work.
Although, even if it did reach the platform, I understand there's an ongoing problem with trains not really coming level with platforms. Many of these stations are old - 50 years, 100 years. The trains have been redesigned over and over. So it's not so surprising. But surprising or not, when a wheelchaired person wants to board a train and can't, because the train's floor is a solid four inches above the platform, well that's just plain frustrating. And something tells me that good old Access-A-Ride is not the magic solution.
I don't have a magic solution. New York City is not an easy place to be for anyone who isn't young and healthy and energetic, and while I'm glad to see an awareness and willingness for compliance, I also feel that there's only so much edge that can ever be taken off of this fast paced, enormous, and driven city. To my fellow New Yorkers, I can only implore you: be aware.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I'm the tiniest bit sad: the MTA realized their omission and slapped an M over the errant V remaining at the corner of 53rd Street and 3rd Avenue. Don't know exactly when, just sometime in the past few weeks. I knew I should have taken a photo. But you know what though? I bet it will be positively AGES before they get around to swapping out all of those awesome metal braille plaques...
Friday, July 23, 2010
After being at work for a little after an hour, they told us to go home. Brilliant! But whatevs, I'm not complaining.
So this gave me an interesting chance to ride around on the Broadway Local during the workday, for the first time really since the Big Change. I expected the trains to be nice and empty, as has been my previous experience with such. Not so. I was really surprised at how many people were on the trains. I'm not sure whether to attribute that to fewer trains, or all those new apartment buildings that have been built in Astoria, or what. And the trains certainly weren't crowded - half full at best. Just more crowded than they used to be.
I also noticed that throughout the afternoon, they were all N trains, and all old trains. Could have been a coincidence - I didn't hang out to see whether any new Qs would come by or anything. I went from Midtown back in to Astoria, then from there back into the city - downtown all the way to Prince. After some wanderings for food and new headphones (yay!) back on home we went in the late afternoon. And it felt like Saturday, but it was Friday, which is sort of like magic.
The weekend, it comes. The heat, it comes. The hiding, I do it...
Thursday, July 22, 2010
The whole thing is making me vary anxious.
Nothing particularly interesting happened on my rides today, nothing that I remember anyway. I'm interplanetary.
Here's the awesome part: I have to go in tomorrow too. :-/
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
So why don't you just take the regular stairs, they ask?
There are, in fact, good old fashioned regular stairs, a case of them, wedged between the two escalators. A nice narrow case. In the morning, people use them to go up. In the evening, people use them to go down. (Not many people, under normal circumstances, mind you.) It would take a brave and very foolish soul to try to go against the flow - and would most likely result in someone getting injured.
Can't you just use the broken down escalator as a staircase? Sometimes, if they haven't opened it up like a can of sardines at the bottom to fix whatever's broken.
A busted case has great potential to lead to an interesting commute. Usually once the good MTA folk get their ducks in a row, they'll switch the working set to go up, because most of us have a much easier time of making it down a flight of stairs than up that same flight. It can take time for that to happen though, so many a morning have I had to trudge. I'm the person you don't want to be stuck behind, with my asthma and bad knee. Septuagenarians with heart conditions bustle past me, muttering beneath their breath.
And of course the up-only situation is super fun for the evening commute, when all of Midtown Manhattan wants to go down and they're being funnled into that one-at-a-time staircase. Never have you seen such a pool of people as collect just past the nice wide set of turnstyles. Always, there is someone thinking it's some kind of line waiting to get on the escalator. Always, there is someone asking, aren't there stairs? Ah, the irony.
The signs I saw coming home last night say it'll be fixed on the 22nd. In the past I've seen them post estimates of two weeks or more. Even with all this hassle though, has it ever been bad enough to make me go to the west side and get out on Lex? ...Oh my, I really wouldn't go that far...
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I came home a bit later than usual for a Tuesday, for two reasons. First, I got locked out of the basement. See, I've been sitting in the basement of my office building for the past six months. We're finally moving this week to floors that can actually accommodate us. But when I was upstairs collecting some moving crates, the last few people left the basement and locked the door. I have a key - it was with the rest of my stuff, you know, behind the locked door. I had to have one of the cleaning ladies come let me in, which of course wasn't at all embarrassing.
Then, once I finally got my stuff and got out of there, I realized I'd forgotten to go pick up my prescription during lunch. And then at the drugstore I accidentally stole some Oreos. (So not my fault! I thought he rang them up! I'm 32 years old; I do not intentionally steal cookies.)
So when I finally got to the train, cookies and drugs in hand, rush hour was basically done. Nice quiet ride home.
Maybe the universe knew I needed some peace. Peace, and cookies.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Alas. My evening ride home was the picture of all of my Doomsday fears. Overcrowded platform that makes a person nervous to stand near the edge. A car packed full of tired, hot, frustrated riders and not a seat in sight. My back aching enough to bring tears to my eyes. Doors being held by self-important riders at every station, making the journey take all the longer. Certainly not the worst ride I've ever had, but also not something I could stand doing every day. Thing is, I know my line has it pretty easy. E Train riders, I am so sorry. I'd be really interested to hear what effect this M Train switch is having.
Speaking of which. On Sunday the hubby and I walked over to Steinway to pick up our first delivery from Holton Farms CSA, which we're totally psyched about. (They're still signing up members, by the way, and they have dropoff points all over NYC...) Anyway, we ended up walking down Broadway coming off of Stienway and there it was: A subway stop labeled R, M. Stopped me in my tracks. So weird! No G, and certainly no V given that it doesn't exist anymore. Ah, change. It is the difficult.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Thanks MTA. Now I'll get to feel totally screwed on my way to the job that makes me feel totally screwed. This is the life!
To be honest, the ever-increasing difficulty of using the subway is part of why I want to leave New York City. That's sad, isn't it? I think so.
(No, I didn't ride the train today. It's official: Sunday is my not-riding-subways day. Apparently I need one of those now.)
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Not a lot of subway traveling done today - just a jaunt from our Astoria stop into the city, 57th Street, and then back again a few hours later. After an appointment we stopped into the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle for a while. Then for once we took a moment to absorb the grandeur that is The Shops at the Time Warner Center. That place is nuts. The Williams Sonoma there is enough to make me dream of some Other Life - one where I, like, own a house. Although nothing they do can make me imagine that I need a chair that costs $1400 even though it was mass-produced in Sri Lanka.
Waiting for the train back I noticed how oblivious I've been. (What an odd statement, no?) The signs for the central tracks at 57th which have been the object of such scrutiny (by me), still the terminus of the weekend and evening Q train, have indeed been updated to reflect that they are such. I think the entire moral of that story is that I am lame and should read more carefully. And you should too! (Nope, really, probably just me.)
Friday, July 16, 2010
Fortunately the 7 train comes approximately 3 times more often than the N and (I want to say W) Q combined, so they're never really all that crowded. The line terminates at Times Square, so if you're catching it at one of the few stops in the city you're never too far from the end of the line. There's always a huge flux at Queensboro Plaza, so there's always a chance of snagging a seat there, should you be continuing on to the deeper regions.
We, of course, detrain at QBP and wait for something yellow to snake its way up from beneath the river. We, of course, watch two or three more 7 trains pass by before this happens. This is the way of things, and for the most part we accept it. Are we a little bit resentful? Well, maybe. But the 7 train gets picked on more than its fair share for some reason when it comes to construction, and on those weekends I do not envy them.
Shuttle bus service to Flushing? No thank you.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
So basically, my theory goes that I was right behind an express. If there really hadn't been a train in forever, then my stop would have been jam packed too. My stop is well populated in and of itself, not to mention the waves we get from deeper in Queens off of the M60. But my stop was just fine. There was indeed still a crowd at QBP, but that doesn't take long to accumulate - just one or two 7 trains can do it.
So is what we do now? Express trains all the live long day? We shall see I suppose...
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I went into work late - 12:45 or so. Kidney thing. I won't get into it. And so, for the first time I experienced the new non-peak-time weekday train schedule on the Broadway line. They weren't kidding about that less frequent train thing. First, I waited a full 12 minutes for a train. I could see two of them hanging out up at the end at Ditmars, and another just chilling on the other side of Astoria Blvd. (Incidentally, a fourth was parked on the express track just beyond my platform, and all four trains were old N trains.) So it's not as if they were behind schedule. They were running right on time.
So not only did I wait crazylong for a train to come. Then, once on the train, it took a full 20 minutes for the train to get from Astoria Blvd. to 59th Street - a full 5 minutes longer than normal. Pish posh you may say, you New Yorkers always rushing, what's five minutes? But believe me, five minutes is a big deal. When you've been making essentially the same ride five days a week for nearly five years, you notice. When I finally arrived at 59th, I saw an N train heading the other way back out to Astoria - another old N.
Coming home a bit later than usual in the evening from 57th Street, I think the MTA was trying to make it up to me for my abnormally long "morning" commute. My old N train (yes, another one) was suspiciously empty. Comfy, but what gives? Once we'd reached the outdoor tracks I confirmed what I'd suspected: sure enough, perhaps a train length ahead of us at Queensboro Plaza, there was another N train. A new N train? Not so much. Based on the number of folk waiting on the platform when we pulled up, and given that we did not spend the remainder of our ride creeping along at a snail's pace, I have a sneaky feeling that the N in front of us went "express". Ah well, I had a seat, so no biggie for me.
Finally, traveling in the opposite direction somewhere around 36th Street, I spotted a New R160 with an N designation. Ah-ha! So they have not all disappeared. Still though, I'll be quite curious to see what pulls up tomorrow...
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
It's a phenomenon that has always fascinated me on this line: the Astoria-specific "express" train. From time to time, a train at Queensboro Plaza will decide that it just isn't going to stop again until it reaches Astoria Boulevard. Or, at Ditmars or Astoria, it will announce that the next stop will be Queensboro Plaza (and best luck to all those poor schmucks trying to get to work from the stations in between). Of course once the train hits Manhattan, everything is business as usual, like nothing ever happened. Never forget: the boroughs don't count. They're just where everybody lives.
This can happen on, well, it used to be either the N or W, and now either the N or Q. Approximately 90-95% of the time the train doesn't bother to jump onto the express tracks, which do in fact run for that length and do not allow access to the intervening stations. No, instead it runs - often quite slowly - right past the platforms full of hopeful riders. Occasionally it goes so far as to actually stop at those platforms... but without opening its doors. This is simply cruel.
When I lived at the 30th Avenue stop, the "express" train was aggravating in the evening, and positively infuriating in the morning. In the evening I'd just ride to Astoria and have a bit of a longer walk home. But there's nothing like standing on a platform in full blazing summer sun at 8:30 in the morning, or better yet in 25 degree temperatures with 15 mile per hour winds, and FINALLY seeing a train approaching, only to have it whip right past you. Near the end of my tenure at 30th Ave, I got so tired of being passed by "express" trains and/or not being able to get a seat for my ride into the city that I just started walking the extra eight minutes up to Astoria Blvd. (And take that, humph.)
Now that I live at one of the "express" stops, well, I won't lie. I quite enjoy the express trains. Coming home at night, you've never seen such a gush of people exiting a train as when that announcement is made at QBP. So many sad, disappointed people, thinking they're just a few stops from home, then unexpectedly forced out onto the dirty outdoor platform to wait for the train that will make "all local stops" that is of course "directly behind this train." The Broadway folk get screwed the worst - right in the middle, and there's a ton of them. It's not that I enjoy their pain. It's just that suddenly I can have any seat in the joint, and I'm getting an interruption-free ride home.
Payback for all those mornings when the train just blew right by?
Monday, July 12, 2010
In the evening, I hit the bottom of the 59th Street escalators just as a Q train was leaving the station. Damn. So I had to wait for a train... for about 60 seconds. The train that came had a seat for me and my extraordinarily tired self. (Do me a favor - remind me to start going to bed earlier?)
On days like this, I take a moment to say thank you to the train gods. Fear them, love them, but most important of all thank them when they are nice to you. You just never know where politeness will get you in those vast dark catacombs. Hey, it couldn't hurt.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
"There is another __ Train directly behind this one."
Yes... isn't that , well, sort of the nature of tracks? Where exactly else would another train be? Wouldn't "immediately behind" or "shortly behind" even "really close by" make a bit more sense, even if it is still a horrible and blatant lie? Because that directly behind thing, well, yeah, of course there is. You're not mentioning, maybe, that it's directly behind you fifteen stations back. But given that you're on the same tracks, there's nowhere else it could be.
Personally, I much prefer it when the conductor says something along the lines of, "If you don't fit on this train, get the hell off. We're not going anywhere until the doors close, so I really don't know what you think you're accomplishing by standing there with your ass hanging out." OK, fine, I've never head the conductor say that. But I have heard them get pretty close. And I know it's what they're thinking. I don't blame them one bit. And I truly think it would be far more effective, because nobody is listening to that "directly behind" crap.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
And that's not all. The Q train terminated at 42nd St / Times Square. Mmmm... kay. Why? For construction. Where, exactly? Between the N, the Q, and the R, every bit of track was being used somewhere or other. Sometimes I think the MTA just makes things up. (I'm sure of that, actually, bless their little hearts.)
I did not in fact come home on Saturday night until Sunday morning, but I have personal rules about when a day switches over. So we're calling it Saturday. And on Saturday night at 1am, the Q train was not terminating at 42nd street, but nor was it going to Astoria. It was terminating at 57th Street. Ah ha! Thus the mystery of the signs at that station is solved once and for all - they won't be changing, because sometimes it's still true that the train on the inner side of the Queensbound platform will in fact be headed to Brooklyn. It will be true on "late nights" and weekends.
This is annoying. First of all, if you're going to take away our train, replace it for real, fuckers. Second, when does "late night" begin for the Q? Nothing seems to tell me this, and there is no strict definition in the MTA lexicon for this particular phrase. On the W line, for instance, "late night" originally meant 9:30 pm but was then changed to 11pm. (Because, you know, they realized a mere two years ago that we needed MORE TRAINS. Bitches.) On the R, it means midnight. And so on.
Oh, you fickle Broadway line, you and your crazy ways. Will we ever cease to dance this dizzy dance of ours?
Friday, July 9, 2010
So definitely no progress on figuring out what happened to all of those shiny sleek new trains that had been running as Ws. If anything, the old Ns are becoming more prominent, much to the chagrin of the daytime workers of Astoria.
People of Astoria, unite: We Want Our Trains!
Thursday, July 8, 2010
So of course that's when it happened. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are being held momentarily by the train's dispatcher. Please be patient." The automated voice of The New R160 seriously gets on my nerves. Or maybe creeps me out. Or maybe both. No, you know what really irks me? The fact that they'll play that damn message about once every 45 second. To the point where I start responding to it out loud: WE KNOW. Did you think we forgot that we're standing still? Hey, maybe we're actually playing miniature golf!
And frankly, we don't give a rat's ass what made up reason you're giving us for the train not moving forward. If it's workers on the track, you'll tell us it's a signal malfunction. If it's a signal malfunction, you'll tell us it's a track fire. If it's a track fire, you'll tell us it's train traffic. If it's train traffic, you'll tell us it's a sick passenger. If it's a sick passenger, you'll tell us it's workers on the track. At least, that's how it used to be, back when human beings would talk into terrible mics over worse PA systems. Now, if you're in the station, it's "being held by the dispatcher". If you're in between stations, it's "train traffic". OK. Shur.
ANYWAY. After sitting at QBP and absorbing about three 7 trains, we were no longer the comfy and carefree Q train we once were. But no matter, we were on our way. Or so we thought. Alas. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are being held momentarily due to train traffic ahead. Please be patient." And that's when I began to notice the murderous rage in my neighbors' eyes...
Nah, it isn't that bad. It's just that nobody wants to deal with that shit first thing in the morning. We want to get to work, and we want to know why they can't just get it right, damnit. But of course there are a thousand variables that go on every hour that we know nothing about... And the incident did make me realize: it's the first time I've experienced a significant in-route delay since The Big Switch. So that has to be worth something.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
One of the standers was a cute British girl who'd gotten on at 57th with me, but unfortunately traveling in the wrong direction. She was clearly a hip-to-the-jive city chick, not brand new to NYC but not too native either. She'd asked fellow standers enough to know that she was headed the wrong way, but was going to rectify it herself (damn it). After watching her peer at the map all the way to the next station, which is of course 5th Avenue, I decided I should share with her what I knew and she clearly didn't.
Which I did as we were pulling in before she made the tragic mistake of getting out. And which is this: at 5th Ave there's no cross-over; she'd have to have gotten out onto the street and then gone back in. Then, if she'd had an "unlimited" card rather than a pay-per-ride, she would have undoubtedly gotten the dreaded "just used" message that persists for a full 18 minutes. Even with a pay-per, she'd have wasted another $2.25. I didn't get into all that though - just that she should wait one more stop (to 59th), where she could simply cross the platform and take the train on the other side. She smiled and was very sweet and cute about it and it was quite a satisfactory exchanged. "Wicked" sounds fantastic in a genuine British accent.
I was sitting on the outside of the train, as it were, so that when we pulled into 59th Street I had a clear view of the absolute mob waiting on that center platform - it was quite intimidating. Surprising for 8pm. When the doors opened, Miss Britt turned around and gave me another thank-you-and-smile. I tried quickly to turn my open-mouthed crap-that's-a-lot-of-people gape into an I'm-cool-no-problem smile-and-nod. I'm sure I looked hilariously absurd. I hope she enjoyed it.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
This is a horrible filthy lie.
Between the people and the machinery of the trains, an enormous amount of heat is produced. And it stays. The heat becomes positively oppressive in most stations, and is almost always tinged with a patina of urine. (Thanks much guys - we women know well that you could hold it, considering that we have no choice and therefore do and very few of us end up with ruptured bladders, but go on right ahead and foul the public spaces for all of us. You're awesome.)
But does heat explain why the trains can't run when it's hot? Correlation is not causation. No, this seems more like some cruel trick of fate, somebody's idea of a joke. After work it was far too hot for me to walk the 10 blocks up to the yellow trains, so I rode the one stop on the 6 train. That was its usual sardine experience, with the added bonus of the 51st Street station reading at least in the 90s. The train itself was about the same, just with weird little whiffs of cold air. When there is so much heat outside and there are so many people in each car, the train A/C that so often freezes people is pitifully feeble. Though I'd hate to know what the inside of the train would feel like without it. If you ever see a totally empty subway car on an otherwise populated train, there are three answers: 1) The doors aren't opening, 2) There is a particularly odoriferous indigent taking up residence, or 3) The A/C is busted. True story.
A handful of stations actually have something of an air conditioning system attempting to keep the temperature at a reasonable level. I am convinced that at least the N/Q platform of 59th Street falls into this category. When I arrived there I found an absolute mob, and it stretched for the entire length of the platform. But it was still somewhat of a relief, as it was at least 10 degrees cooler than 51st Street had been. After eight minutes of waiting the first train arrived, a Q, and it was far too packed for me to try to get on. I'm more of a wait-for-the-next-one kind of girl than one who'll squeeze in at any cost. It's just not worth it. I'm not on the run from the fuzz. Indeed, many who would have liked to get on simply would not fit.
After about five more minutes, an N train arrived. It too was already fairly full, but enough passengers got off that I could reasonably get on and not have a complete panic attack before getting to QBP. I was really hoping that once we reached that station we'd go "express", a phenomenon I'll have to talk about sometime, but no such luck. I never did get a seat, not even after 30th Avenue. That... never really happens.
Oh, hot hot heat, please go away. Give us a mild summer. I want to go to Coney Island.
Monday, July 5, 2010
I bear good news though. On Friday my ureteral stent came out! In case you haven't been keeping up, the short version of what that means is, I can once again walk more than six blocks without worrying about minor internal bleeding. It no longer hurts to do, well, everything. And for the purposes of this project, the possibility of riding is once again on the table! Hurrah!
Being the jackass that I am, I somehow still have not composed my J train post. What is the matter with me? If anyone knows please share. Anyway, I still have a lot of appointments to juggle, but fingers crossed, I should be doing some riding soon...
Yeah right, they snicker. But you'll see, you'll see!!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Possibly crazier: the subway was pretty darn crowded for it being a National Holiday. We were headed out to the mall in "suburban" Queens, so we took the N into the city to turn around and take the R back out into the depths. (This may seem goofy to any non-New-Yorkers, but with any subway system sometimes you have to go back to go forward, or go up to go down, et cetera.)
And I came to an important conclusion. If I'd had to ride the R train every day, I wouldn't have lasted two years in New York. It's loud, it's crowded, and it's hot. Even when the N had old trains, they were different old trains - they had different seating arrangements, didn't have that dark "wood" paneling or the unusable arm rests that serve only to bruise my hips. R train riders, I feel for you. I truly hope that some of those mysteriously disappearing W trains show up on your line, and soon.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Something to ponder though. Where did the W trains go? Since the switch we've seen a marked increase in the prevalence of old N trains - strange, considering that the W line had been running The New R160 nearly 100%. They certainly didn't go to the R line - I can't remember the last time I saw a new R. Shame too, they need new trains almost as badly as the C line. And I'm still seeing old Q trains. Are they running that many more Q trains, that the Ws got absorbed into the Q line and the old trains are still needed there? Inquiring minds want to know.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I thought for a moment that maybe the upcoming holiday had thinned out the working crowd a bit, but there certainly hadn't been any relief on the ever-sardine-like 6 train that I rode 20 minutes later. Ideas? Theories? You tell me. Maybe all that noise from the fireworks in Astoria Park last night scared everyone out of the neighborhood - ya think?
Well maybe everyone was just laying in wait to board the evening trains, because my ride home was one of the worst in recent memory. Totally jam-packed N train, even though I had just missed a Q maybe five minutes before. The train stayed full up the whole way - I never did get a seat, not even after 30th Avenue. That basically never happens. Usually I can claim something after Broadway, but always after 30th, where approximately half the train gets off. But not today, much to the chagrin of my aching back. (The kidney stent comes out tomorrow, by the way.)
Four very different days so far. Strange indeed. No riding tomorrow, just adventures in kidneyland. But I'll try to find some way to keep you all entertained...
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
My train from 59th Street toward 57th was quite the stop-and-go - with more stop than go. I had just missed a Q train coming in from Astoria, and boarded an N that arrived on its heels. Of course, being so close behind its forerunner it moved at a snail's pace. We spent a good long while stopped at 5th Ave, and wave after wave of people poured through the open doors filling up what had been a nice emptyish car. We then hovered for a while longer between 5th Ave and 57th Street, presumably just waiting for the signals to clear so that we could enter the station.
My way home an hour later though was empty as could be. I hadn't waited long for a train, but I couldn't have been too close behind one as there was an R in the station when I arrived and we didn't have any delays or slow speeds in our travels. It's a ride I make weekly, and last week I couldn't even get a seat. Strange things afoot? Perhaps.
I was interested to see that at 57th, the signs on the inner tracks - previously the northern terminus of the Q - have not been altered to reflect the route changes, though the signs of the outer tracks do reflect the Q-for-W switchout. Of course, it's much easier to slap a "Q" sticker over the old "W" emblem that used to be there than to resurface an entire sign. Upstairs was even easier: there's just a square black swath where the "W" used to be, and long live the N Q R, I guess.
And of course the hysterical blinking of the "next train this side" arrow sign is a thing of the past, as is the mad dashing of people sitting in a Q on what is really the Queens bound side waiting for it to make up its mind to head on south to Brooklyn anyway, and then rushing up over and around to make the N, R, or W that appears over on the true Brooklyn bound side... I can't help but feel that good old 57 has lost some character in all this. No longer a terminus, now just a humble pass through. Kinetic energy lost. And after all that construction to put in those ridiculous elevators too. Why ridiculous? Because they only descend to the mezzanine. Stairs remain the only access to the train platform level. If anyone can explain that one to me, I'm all ears.
Other signage mishaps noticed today: at the southwest corner of 53rd and 3rd Ave, the V has been covered with an M on the stair side of the entrance, but not on the side that faces out toward the street. Details, details, MTA. Tee hee.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Oddly, as of 10am nothing much was being mentioned on mta.info. Certainly nothing about cutting the Q route short - just a brief blip that there had been "delays" on the R line but that service had returned to normal, and the same for the E. Funny, that's not quite the story I got from my co-workers who had to walk half way across town to get to the office.
As for my own commute this morning, it was as cursed as yesterday's was charmed. A train rolled through as we were making it up the first set of stairs, and when we made it up to the platform we could see that there were zero trains hovering at the Ditmars station - leaving our wait time at absolute maximum.
When a train did come - and a Q train at that, so I know that they were running the full length at some point during the morning - it wasn't the worst I've seen it. Believe it or not there are times that the train is standing room only when it reaches Astoria Boulevard. But no, today it was the 30th Avenue crowd that got the screw (a pretty common ocurrance, and one of the main reasons we moved north), and it only got worse from there. By QBP it was an absolute crush. Frankly, you couldn't pay me enough to have a morning commute that involved getting on a yellow train at Queensboro every morning. Talk about not worth it.
Just like yesterday, though, this could have been a quirk of timing. I'm having a royally bad day, and I just might have gotten smashed into the one spot of trouble they had all day.
My evening commute was just about standard - standard crappy, that is. Crowded hot platform, and some weird announcement that really didn't make much sense about Q trains running local from 59th to 42nd? Well there's only one non "express" stop in that run, which is 49th. And it's not as if there's even a separate express track there; the trains just sometimes don't stop for the play-going crowd, and no one really gets why.
The Q train, when it came, was not quite shoulder to shoulder, but let's just say I don't actually choose to stand that close to anyone but my husband. Somewhere around 39th Ave, a woman standing near me did what I'd been thinking hard about doing, and asked a strapping young man to give up his seat for the VERY pregnant blond who'd been leaning on the doors near us. She was clearly embarrassed, but took the spot with great relief nonetheless. Seats started freeing up in earnest around the Broadway stop out in Astoria, much to my relief.
So, are we beginning to see the backlash of the doomsday cuts? I fear the answer is yes, but in truth I know that it is too soon to say...
Monday, June 28, 2010
But this morning's ride in on an N - though I was hoping to see one of these Queens Q trains, I had an early doctor's appointment to make so I couldn't wait around - was if anything a bit less crowded than usual. That could of course be specifically because I was out a good half hour to 45 minutes earlier than normal, but it's hard to say.
(And while I'm at it, can I just say what is UP with the north staircase of the southbound track of the Astoria station? Come on people. Get that sh*t fixed already.)
When it came time to come home, I set my jaw and prepared for the worst. But descending the escalator at 59th street I was surprised to see a much smaller crowd on the platform than usually greets me at just-after-six. Again, you never know; it could have been timing. I could have been 30 seconds behind back-to-back R trains - happens more often than you'd believe, and it clears out the joint pretty good. Either way though, I got a seat all the way home, and thank the public transit gods because my kidney was killing me.
So day one for doomsday wasn't very doomy at all, at least for my rides on the good old Broadway Local. What this means, nobody knows. Perhaps we'll know more tomorrow.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
There is, of course, a certain justice in the Q train finally serving Queens.
These things happen. Train lines come and go, get renamed, get new routes. And I guess I've just been in New York long enough now that I'm seeing it happen with my own eyes, on my own lines. What's worse that the rerouting, though, is that service is being cut. What is that delusional claim they make? From zero passengers standing to 10 - 12? (I hope they mean per 20 square feet of car space, because that's how it already is during rush hour.) I fear for my evening commute. But only time will tell.
It seems that few will mourn the loss of the V train - except for me, that is. I liked that train, mainly for its *not* being the E train, which is always packed to the gills with people in too much of a hurry to realize that, uh, they could just take the V, which was always half empty. Which was of course why I always liked the V train so much. Will the rerouted M be the same? I'm sure I'll have occasion to find out.
The WFP has struggled valiantly to at least get the MTA to back off of eliminating student metro cards. (Come on folks - are you gonna push them down and take their lunch money too?) And it looks like they're making some headway on that front. But it doesn't seem that any amount of pleading (or demonstrating, or petitioning...) could save these lines, a number of bus slashes, and the service cuts that are now under way.
Thanks much Bloomie, our independently (extraordinarily) wealthy third term mayor! Just a little food for thought: you know this town completely falls apart without usable public service, right? Kay. Just makin' sure.
And yeah, I am so totally getting the t-shirt.
Monday, May 31, 2010
And then, tragedy struck.
Last Saturday after 10 hours in the ER we figured out that I have kidney stones, seven of 'em. It should have been simple enough, get rid of the one big one that's giving me all the trouble and pass the rest and have done with it. But no. Not for me. I went and got two infected kidneys and put myself in the hospital for three days instead.
So for the moment I'm, uh, grounded. Frustrating as hell, what with this clock ticking. I've got the taste for it! I want to get out there and do some professional riding! But given that I can't even get to my station right now, it just doesn't seem to be in the cards.
And in conclusion,
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
From the MTA website:
MTA Board Approves Service Changes
On Wednesday, the MTA board approved a package of service changes needed to help fill a nearly $800 million budget shortfall for 2010. The service changes included modifications based on public feedback from more than 500 speakers at the MTA's nine public hearings, in addition to 7,100 emails, and 110,000 letters and signed petitions.
"The extent of our deficit requires that most of the cuts move ahead, but we listened to our customers and made changes where we could," MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder said. "We were able to take a number of cuts off the table but unfortunately, many of the cuts moving ahead will be painful."
The service changes will save the MTA $93 million each year and are part of a series of actions proposed in December to close a nearly $400 million shortfall for 2010, including changes to paratransit service and the elimination of student MetroCards. An additional shortfall of $378 million has since developed. The total of nearly $800 million is due largely to the deterioration of projected payroll tax revenues and a state cut of $143 million to the MTA's budget that was diverted to the State's general fund.
Additional actions are also being undertaken to close the remaining gap. The MTA has begun overhauling how it does business, renegotiating contracts with suppliers, and identifying projects that can be deferred or eliminated. Spending is already down $59 million for the first two months of the year. It plans to consolidate functions across its agencies, reduce overtime costs and has already begun meeting with union leadership to discuss the agency's budget situation and begin the dialogue about how they can contribute to the solution.
"The reality is that closing the first $400 million is extremely painful, and closing the additional gap will be even harder," Chairman Walder said. "We've just taken a very difficult vote, but there are more difficult choices ahead to achieve necessary cost savings."A full list of the service changes and an implementation schedule are available below.
- New York City Transit
- Long Island Rail Road
- Long Island Bus
- Metro-North Railroad
- Bus Company
- Final Access-A-Ride Report
- Final Able-Ride Report
Final Crossing Charges
Implementation TimelineNew York City Transit, MTA Bus, Long Island Bus
All changes, bus and rail, are planned to be effective June 27, 2010. Since that is a Sunday, weekday-only services (V, W, many of the express buses, etc) would run their last regular service on Friday, June 25 and the first weekday patterns on Monday June 28. One exception: Staten Island Ball Park (SIR) special will officially be discontinued June 18 (the first Staten Island Yankees home game).Long Island Rail Road
The LIRR service changes earmarked for May 2010 would be implemented with the May 17, timetable change. The LIRR Service changes earmarked for September 2010 would be implemented with the September 13 timetable change.Metro-North Railroad
Service changes will be implemented on June 21, 2010, to correspond to with their next timetable change.Access-a-Ride
Service changes will be phased in over the next several months.Able-Ride
MTA LI Bus agreed to a federal judge's request to delay the elimination of Able-Ride's non-ADA paratransit service by two weeks. The planned date for this change therefore has been rescheduled to April 28, 2010.
The judge asked for a two-week delay to give social service groups within the affected areas of Nassau County an opportunity to be fully apprised of the pending changes to Able Ride service. While we believe that our actions are fully in conformance with legal obligations with respect to the lawsuit itself, we want to afford our customers this additional period to explore alternative modes of transportation and resources. An invitation to attend an information session on April 22 was mailed to various social service groups in the affected areas within Nassau County.
The judge scheduled another hearing for April 27 to render a decision in this matter.Bridges & Tunnels
Modification of the Cross Bay Bridge Resident Rebate Program will go into effect at a yet to be determined date in July.
Student Fare Proposal
The proposal to eliminate free and discounted student fares has not been acted upon by the board.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Subway and Staten Island Railway
- Reduce Weekend Train Frequencies to Accommodate Construction Work
- Revise Off-Peak Service Levels – Change Maximum Loading Guideline from No Standees Per Car to 10-18 Standees per Car (from 100% of a Seated Load to 125% of a Seated Load)
- Operate G Between Court Square and Church Avenue at All Times
- Extend Q to Astoria and Operate N Local North of Canal Street to Replace the W
- Extend M to Replace the V Between Broadway-Lafayette Street and Forest Hills-71st Avenue, Discontinue M Between Essex Street and Bay Parkway (Note: route letter designation changed from 1/27/10 proposal).
- Discontinue Staten Island Railway Baseball Special Service
If you're interested, you can read the full 127 page report on the cuts.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I have the same old crappy excuses: health, wedding, bla bla bla. But the wedding is now finished - I'm a Mrs.! And with the exception of some nasty wisdom tooth stuff, my health seems to be trucking along.
And now there's actually a bit of pressure: Jonathan and I have made a semi-formal decision to leave New York. We love this city, we really do, but it is a difficult place to be, particularly for me physically. I don't know that it's too great for either of our stress levels either. Not to worry though. The earliest we'll go is May of next year, giving me well over a year to ride the rest of the trains. I just need to get back up on it...