Obnoxiously Long Commute this Morning

Wow did it take for ever to get to work this morning.

There were some pretty significant delays on the 1 train last night because of signal problems at 96th Street.  The trains were running excessively slow.  At one point, it took 10 minutes just to get to the next stop.  We were rolling the whole time, but at a pace that I could have matched on foot without breaking a sweat.

So this morning, I don’t know if they were still recovering or what.  There were huge gaps between trains.  The trains themselves ran quickly when they finally arrived.

Then there was the largest single travel group I’ve ever seen trying to board the train.  On the Upper West Side, there are a lot of less expensive boutique hotels, so groups of foreign travelers (and students) often stay there.  So you see the groups of them all the time.  Sometimes they can get large, but nothing like this.

There had to be over 150 of them.  Mostly they seemed to be around 18 years old.  I couldn’t make out where they were from.  They sounded sort of Dutch?  I don’t know.  What I do know is there was a ton of them.

Any other day when there are delays like this, the train arrives at the station packed to the gills.  Only 2 or 3 people are able to get on at each doorway, even though there are lots of people waiting at the platform.  So then, throw in this mass of tourists, and you’ve got complete insanity.

They’re still probably standing there waiting to get on.  There’s absolutely no way they were getting more than 10 of their people on a train at a time.  Of course, none of them wanted to do that.  They looked like they were just going to keep waiting until a virtually empty train came along.  Good luck with aaaallll that.

Where’s My MetroCard Damn It?!

Ain’t this a b*tch.  I went to buy a MetroCard today.  Everything was going as normal until it came time for the stupid machine to spit out my new card.

I heard the noise of it trying to spit the card out, but nothing happened.  Then all of a sudden it asked if I wanted a receipt.  I usually say no, but this time I was sure to get one.  Ball game over.

So I was standing there like an idiot with a line of people behind me thinking, “Now what?”

I could see like 1/8th of the card sticking out of the slot.  Not enough was sticking out for me to grab a hold of it.  It I had some pliers or something, I could have probably yanked it out.

So I stepped back and let the next person try.  Of course, I said it just jammed up for mine, but they were willing to try anyway.  Same thing happened.  I was hoping it would spit out two cards (mine then that guy’s).

I gave up and went to a different machine and bought another.  $164 later, I got one monthly card.

Luckily, I got that receipt.  But now it’s like a freaking nightmare to get reimbursed for the one that didn’t come out.  One woman on the phone was trying to give me a hard time about how she couldn’t deactivate it until it had been used at least once.

I said I don’t care what you do, just give me my $82 back, or send me another card and I’ll just hold on to it until next month.

MTA Police Officer Let’s Bum Skip Fare

I saw it with my own eyes.  My jaw dropped to the ground.

I’m sure you’ve seen a homeless person with a stack of used MetroCards standing at a turnstile swiping away in hopes to find a card with a ride still left on it.  I do applaud them for trying to be legal about getting in the subway.  Have to hand it to them there.

However, today I saw an MTA cop just let a guy in because he was tired of seeing the guy swipe (not the guy pictured above). 

It wasn’t even that busy.  The cop said, “You know what, just stop.  Come through.”  

With that, he opened the emergency door and let the guy through.

An act of kindness, perhaps.  However, if anyone else did that, he’d take pleasure in writing them a summons.  

The bottom line was he was just tired of hearing that high pitch ring of the cards being denied.

PHOTO CREDIT

NFL Kickoff Sh*tshow in Columbus Circle

If you haven’t seen or heard, the NFL has taken over all of Columbus Circle.  Tomorrow, it grows even more.

It’s all for the “NFL Kickoff” celebration tomorrow featuring performances by Usher, Keith Urban, and Natasha Bedingfield.

There’s an enormous stage taking up the width of Central Park South.  The stage is set up on Columbus Circle facing down CPS toward 5th Avenue.

However, all of the Circle will be closed to traffic and much of it to foot traffic tomorrow.  Streets all the way up to the 60’s on Broadway and Central Park West. And all of Central Park South from Columbus Circle to 5th Avenue.  Insane!

It’s going to make subway traffic in that area interesting.

The Columbus Circle subway is a complete disaster as it is right now from the never ending construction.  So I don’t know how they plan to handle all of the afternoon commute traffic.  The concert starts at about 3PM and ends by 6:45p.  So the rush should be fun.

Getting in and out of the half open stairways, half width platforms, etc is going to be epic.

Well, that’s comforting

Just when you finally managed to stop pondering all of the things that could go wrong when riding the NYC Subway, it turns out that the computer system that controls the trains crashed for a few minutes yesterday.

It was only “down” for a few moments.  However, when it came back online, the system was unable to find many of the trains in the system.

The system that crashed only controls the numbered lines.  While the system went down and recovered, many trains were forced remain in stations or mid-tunnels while dispatchers manually radioed individual trains to determine their location.  Yikes.

Perhaps some of the MTA employees that read SUBWAYblogger could enlighten us on why the computer can’t locate trains after a reboot.  I assume the trains have to pass some sort of sensor on the track.  So if the trains weren’t moving, they hadn’t passed over a sensor since the reboot.

BREAKING: Station at 53rd Street & 7th Ave Evacuated

MTA Website Showing Delays
MTA Website Showing Delays

Apparently there is a strange odor at the 53rd and 7th station that has caused it to be evacuated.

B, D, and E trains are bypassing the station at this time, and last we heard, passengers are not being allowed to enter the station.  However, the MTA says the V train is running with residual delays.  So I guess it’s at least partially open?

The strange odor is allegedly coming from a faulty elevator motor.  Of course, that is no shock.

MIT Kids: Please come hack us!

Who knew all we needed was some MIT kids to help us get around any future fare hikes.

Apparently, some students at MIT made it a class project to hack the Boston subway system (aka the T).  As a matter of fact, the title of the project is: “The Anatomy of a Subway Hack: Breaking Crypto RFIDs & Magstripes of Ticketing Systems.”

Now, the students are computer security majors, so you can see the fit.

They planned to give their 80+ slide presentation at Defcon, a very large security conference.

However, the MTBA sued to have the presentation stopped.  A judge ordered a temporary restraining order keeping the presentation quiet.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) got involved to fight the order.

Anyway, the kids had successfully shown how to generate and reverse engineer CharlieCards and CharlieTickets, the Boston version of Metrocards.

They basically did in a semester what any professional hackers could do, but planed to use it as an educational tool.  Sure, stealing rides is illegal, but the bigger issue is that some students were able to beat a system pretty easily.

Makes me wonder what kind of havoc they could wreak with the Metrocard system.

NYCT Reports Most Subway Cars Well Air Conditioned

According to the MTA, most subway cars are well air conditioned.

Well, ok then.  Thanks for letting me know…I guess?

A hot mess.  (sardinetea via flickr)
A hot mess. (sardinetea via flickr)

Wait, wait.  Did they just guess at that?  Of course not.  They commissioned a full scale study.  Transit officials inspected 2,666 train cars throughout the system.  Of them, 73 cars failed.

It appears that the pass/fail mark was 78 degrees.  Personally, I think that is a little toasty, but manageable.  That’s certainly better than some trains over 88 degrees!

The E train had the worst score, which is not a surprise at all because they are the oldest trains.

So I’m left wondering why a study was needed.  I mean, sure it probably gives you an official looking number when you’re done, but it doesn’t really fix anything.

The MTA should be studying what would improve the a) reporting and b) repairing of overheating cars.

I guess you can just see which cars have no AC because they are usually empty!  However, I doubt if riders report overheated train cars.  Air conditioning, along with other general repair needs should be easily reportable, but they aren’t.  I mean you could call 411 I guess, but who has time for that?