College Students Are Back

The freshmen are in town.  I’ve seen a lot of tour groups riding the subway.  I know they are tour groups because one kid has a t-shirt on that says “orientation leader.”

I guess part of the orientation process is learning how to get around the city.  If so, that’s pretty cool that they take the out of town kids around to get them acclimated to city life.

I overheard some in depth discussions about uptown vs downtown and express vs local…haha.

Honestly, the orientation leaders should just talk about the subway and stops in terms of bars.  Instead of calling the stop West 4th Street, call it Off the Wagon, Down the Hatch, and 124 Rabbit Club…etc.

Amtrak Strike Will Be a Subway Disaster

Amtrak workers could go on strike as early as January 30th.  As with all strikes, there’s a much broader impact than you first think.

An Amtrak strike has affect on virtually all rail related travel.  What most people don’t realize is Amtrak controls the signals coming in and out of Penn Station.  This means all the rail switches are under their control.

Because of that, LIRR and NJ Transit trains cannot come in or out of Penn Station without them.  Even though multiple train companies use the rails, it is Amtrak doing the switch work.  If and when the Amtrak workers go out, Penn Station will grind to a stop.  It translates into the displacement of 85,000 LIRR riders and about 70,000 NJ Transit riders.

NJ Transit riders will be able to get close to the city, but not all the way in.  They would be able to ride as far as Hoboken, and then they would have to get off.  From there, they would need to take the PATH or Ferry.

LIRR riders would have to get off at Jamaica Station in Brooklyn.  From there, the only option would be to take the subway the rest of the way into Manhattan.

If the strike happens, there will be an enormous amount of volume on the PATH and subway.  Perhaps more than they are able to handle.  There would also be an insane amount of street traffic.

People would likely start to drive into the city.  If the option is drive to a PATH station or parking lot near a subway stop, people will probably just say “screw it” and drive all the way in.

Folks that choose not to drive are going to get crammed into PATH and Subway trains like they’ve never seen before.

January 30th happens to be a Wednesday.  I’d imagine that is a fairly slow day for incoming or outgoing tourist travel.  However, Thursday and Friday are going to get crazy.  People coming into the city for the weekend that had planned to take Amtrak will start to flood in using alternative methods.  Yikes.

Getting to Times Square on New Year’s Eve

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It’s time for the city to get rid of 2007 and move on to 2008 like only we can.  It’s time for the shit-show known as New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

Ask any New Yorker that has been around here for a few years or more.  They’ll likely tell you the last place on earth they would want to be on December 31st is Times Square.   Why?  Well let’s check the rundown.

– No Alcohol
– No Bathrooms
– No Seats
– No Walking Around
– No Bags

Ohh, and you have to be there by around 5pm at the latest if you want an even halfway decent view of the stages or ball drop.

Starting at around 4pm, the NYPD will close down the streets around Times Square and start filling in the revelers’ cages viewing areas.  As each area fills up, they close them off, and start filling the next one.  You have really no choice of where you want to be. You just go where you’re directed.  Then you are pretty much locked in there.  If you leave, there’s really not any getting back in there.

So there’s nothing quite like standing in a penned in area, packed with people while the chick next to you pops a squat because there are no bathrooms.  It’s definitely a once in a lifetime activity.  Then again, I suppose it is a badge of honor once you’ve done it.

SUBWAYblogger will be there!  (Yeah, after that enticing setup.)  SB will be “working” right smack in the middle of it all. Luckily, I won’t be trapped in the pens though.

So how do you get there?  The subway is the best way:

– All normal Times Square trains will be running every 3 – 12 minutes until 3am.  Then, for the rest of New Year’s Day, the system will run on a Sunday schedule.  Keep in mind, the bars are allowed to be open until 6am that night, so you’ll need to be in “Sunday Mode” as you stumble back to your apartment.

– N/R/W Uptown lines will skip the 49th Street station beginning at 7pm till 12:15am

– 1 Trains Uptown will skip 50th Street from 7pm till 12:15 am.  (That station is waaaay to small to handle the volume of people that will be there.

– From 7pm on, certain subway entrances will be closed as crowd volume warrants, so just be aware that you may need to hoof it to another entrance.

The MTA also reminds you that they are not cool with you shotgunning beers on the trains and buses.   [More MTA Info]

So after it is all over, SUBWAYblogger highly recommends walking as far as you can.  Just get a reasonable distance away from Times Square before even attempting to get on the subway.  Walking uptown to 59th Street really is not as far as it sounds.  Walking downtown to 34th Street is like nothing.  So you would probably be better off getting out of the thickest areas first.

Let you know how it all goes!

Light Holiday Shopping Rush?

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Well it is usually this time of the year that I run out of Christmas cheer.  It’s about this time that I am ready to kill people on the subway.

Most of it has to do with obnoxious tourists and their 25 shopping bags cramming into the train cars.

See if you can relate to this scenario.  There you are going to or coming from work.  You have on dress pants or a skirt.  Most dress pants tend to be a somewhat thin, light weight material.  Here comes a 50 something woman with 10 shopping bags in each hand.  As she tries to scoot by you on the train, the sharp corners from her designer shopping bags scratch and scrape your legs.

I’ve actually had a person put a small hole in my pants like this ones.  Soooooooo pissed.  Even more pissed because I didn’t notice the whole until someone pointed it out when I got to the office. And I know it was from this woman on the train because the there was a red scratch on my skin right where the hole was in the fabric.

Anyway, the major rush seems to have already ended.  I’m not seeing as many shoppers on the trains this week as I’ve seen in years past.  The trains are no more crowded than normal it seems.

I did speak to a vendor at the Bryant Park holiday bazaar, and he said it is much slower than last year.  It is much colder this year than it was the previous year.  As a matter of fact, it was pretty warm for December last year, so it brought out tons of people.

Any other mass transit holiday nightmares you would like to share?

NYC 4th of July Madness

Macy’s FireworksDid you venture to the Lower East Side last night for fireworks?  Remember your umbrella?   Well, SUBWAYblogger did.

It wasn’t bad getting there really.  We transferred at Times Square and took the downtown N train.  Not much waiting time at around 7:30pm.  Took that down to 23rd Street.

Since we got there a little ahead of schedule, there was plenty of time for a pit-stop at Shake Shack.  Here’s where the rain helped.  There was virtually no line whatsoever at the Shack.  That’s unheard of this time of year.  There’s always a line.  On average, we usually wait at least 45 minutes.  The light rain had driven everyone indoors I guess.  There were only about 10 people in front of us.  (For you Shack regulars, thats just past the point in line where you step up onto the gravelly part…past the menu sign.)

After a Shack Burger and Summer Peach custard, it was off to FDR.  Got there in plenty of time and got an excellent spot for viewing.  That was another advantage of the rain.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like if it were actually nice out.  It actually started to come down pretty heavy at about 9pm (just 20 minutes before show time).   Luckily, it stopped just in time.

Good show…yadda yadda.

Then the trek back was…well…an adventure.  The part that sucks after a major event lets out is that you are subject to moving with the crowd.  The only way to avoid it is to leave early, and who wants to be that guy?

Ended up having to hoof it to the 14th Street station.  For some reason, the 14th Street station seemed 10 times farther away than it should have.  Anyway, the N train rolled up, and everyone made a dash for it.  Just as the last people squeeeeeeeezed on, a Q train pulled in.  I was near the outside, so I bailed to catch that express train just as the doors closed behind me.  I made it onto the express and even scored a forward facing seat.  Sweet!

Of course, my connecting train at 42nd Street took forever to get there.  It’s always the last leg that screws you.

On a side note, I’ve never seen so many subway maps out at the same time.  Every other person was a tourist or someone from out of town.  They had no idea where they were going.  You could also tell they were tourists because they thought they were entitled to “breathing room” on the packed train.  They looked mortified.

Subway Congestion Fare: 50 Cents

Ok, so this proposal was announced last week, and…well…I needed a few days to ponder my reaction. No matter how hard I thought about it, all I was left with was: “WTF?”

Let’s discuss.

The New York State Assembly basically wants to 1) pick a fight and 2) ride on the “green” coat tails of Mayor Bloomberg. The Mayor announced his congestion pricing plan designed to charge an $8 fee to drive in midtown during peak times. It was met with great approval by New Yorkers, over 80% approval. So of course, the Assembly doesn’t want some great idea to be passed without them being involved, so of course the must tamper.

So, they throw out the idea of lowering the subway fare to 50 cents (from $2) during rush hours. [sigh]

Let’s talk about all the reasons why this might be the worst idea on the planet. First, it is going to do nothing to lower carbon emissions, which is the freaking point. Trying to lure people out of the cars by saving them a buck-fifty isn’t going to work. Drivers are just going to keep driving because it won’t cost them any more to drive. Sure, the might contemplate the savings by taking the subway, but let’s face it, there’s a reason that they like to drive in the first place. Saving them a little change isn’t going to inspire them to hit the rails.

On the flip side, a lot more people will ride the trains and buses for shorter trips. Right now, people walk if their destination isn’t worth the $2 to take the subway. Reducing the fare to 50 cents will encourage more people to take very short trips. The number of one stop riders will skyrocket. “For $2…ehh…I’ll just walk,” will be replaced by, “Hell, it’s only 50 cents…lets ride.”

Also, you’re banking on people flooding into the public transportation system that can’t handle the load as it is. As a whole, yeah, the system might be able to handle a sharp increase in traffic. However, certain lines are going to come to a grinding halt. Just to name a few, the 1, 2, and 3 line and the F line will flood well over capacity. They are already over crowded!

You may argue that the Mayor’s congestion pricing model is going to do the same thing, but you would be wrong. Yes, there will be some increase in usage of the public transportation system, but not an insane increase. Why? Because congestion pricing does not target New Yorkers.

Bloomberg was initially concerned that congestion pricing would have a huge financial impact on outer borough residents coming into Manhattan. However, it turns out that most outer borough peeps are smart, and already rely mostly on the subway to get into midtown. So, congestion pricing really hurt them much. Instead, congestion pricing impacts commercial traffic and people coming into the city from out of town. So, all the people that live out of town, but come in to work will be saddled with most of the fees. Sounds like a plan to me.Read More »

Evil fun with Red Sox fans

So yesterday afternoon, SUBWAYblogger went to the Yankees vs Red Sox game (which by the way the Yankees finally won).  Getting up there was a complete nightmare.  Like a complete idiot, SUBWAYblogger forgot that the A and C lines were scheduled to be all F-ed up.

First, there’s no C trains at all.  Damn.  Then, the A trains were running local when in fact they did stop.  Many stops were simply being skipped all together.  At the time, the A trains were running nonstop uptown from 59th Street to 125th Street.  That’s a long, nonstop haul.  So if you were looking (as SB was) to get on at any point in between, you were out of luck. Usually, you can take an A train to  145th Street to catch the B or D.

Anyway, as described, the trains were a complete nightmare.  So there were tons of people that had no idea what to do because they aren’t subway riding regulars.  When people asked, SUWBAYblogger helped them find their way.  Basically, it was “Don’t worry.  Just follow me.”  So I ended up having a little trail of followers.

Then, there was the ride home…

Feeling a bit relieved after our Yankees victory (finally), we were headed back to the train.  There was a group of complete asshole Red Sox fans causing trouble the whole way.  The kind of people you just want to smack.

At one point, they turned around and in my general direction asked, “Does the 4 or the D train go to Grand Central??”

Here was my chance.  “Take the D train!” I yelled back.  Gratefully, they headed for the D.  So there’s a certain amount of satisfaction in sending a posse of Red Sox fans all over Manhattan.

Just some innocent fun.  Hell, I could have told them to take an UPTOWN D train, and that would have been even more fun.