Friday, July 02, 2004

The 4/5 "Express" train myth

Gothamist links to a NY Daily News study of the local vs. express trains in the NYC subway system. They sent two reporters on a trip downtown from 86th Street to City Hall, and surprising no one except MTA designers, the local train rider won. Since Liz and I moved to the Upper East Side (or Yorkville, if you want to be that specific), I've suffered on these overcrowded trains like everyone else on that side of town. I decided that the East Side subways were intended to punish people who live on my side of the city, and in the Bronx, via this cruel form of torture. However, my consolation has been that at least the express train only took about 20 minutes to make the trip downtown. This morning's ride, for example, took almost exactly 20 minutes from when I boarded the train to when I got off at Fulton Street. But for the past three weeks, almost every ride to work on the express train has been filled with stops and starts and especially long waits in the tunnels while multiple local trains pass by. My average commute to work sometimes stretches to 40 minutes or longer. I saw this service advisory about track work on the downtown express tracks going on until mid-July. But the NY Daily News article says that riders can expect these delays until late September! That's ridiculous. In a subway system that regularly reroutes trains and repairs lines on weekends, why does the MTA have to work on train tracks during weekday rush hours? Is this some form of cost-cutting? They hired a contractor but refused to pay them overtime for weekend and late-night work, so they're working during the day? I've tried the local train, and sometimes it's quicker for me than the express, but ultimately I lose because the local ends at Brooklyn Bridge, one stop before my regular stop at Fulton. Then I have the choice of waiting for a delayed express train, which will probably be one that my local train passed in the tunnel, or walking to the office from there. The walk adds 10 minutes to my commute, even at my pace. Either way, I lose.

Since there's no other option for me to get to work, I'll just have to put up with the delays. And that's the most frustrating thing.

Yes, this post is a rant.

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