Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Doomsday on the Broadway Local: Day 16

That old N train that rolled past you tonight without stopping? Yeah, that was me.

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?

Perhaps.

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