Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Doomsday on the Broadway Local: Day 3

Day Three of the new regime was utterly uneventful, at least in my part of the world. My morning commute was so mundane that I can barely remember it. The train (an N) was not very full and not very empty. My evening did bring me to and from the 57th Street station, and I was able to find out what I've been wanting to know about track usage. As I suspected, both the N and the Q are running on the outer, "local" track; the inner tracks are going unused. I wonder if they will now be considered "abandoned" by the MTA. I don't know how far they extend north past the station, not sure if they rejoin with the outer tracks or end up at one of those strange spring loaded bumper situations that you see now and then. I'd like to find out.

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.

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