Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Phone Photo Ops - Pacing an Express Train

This morning I decided not to deal with the commuter mania happening on the subway platform at 96th Street. I watched as the downtown no. 1 train emptied into the station to await an express no. 2 or 3, and as the doors shut and the no. 1 train lurched forward, I saw a downtown no. 3 pulling into the station.

I'd be damned if the MTA doesn't do that shit on purpose. Not only am I not afforded the option to switch trains with the new given knowledge that an express train was in close proximity, but I've had the reverse happen, where I am on the no. 1 as it arrives at the station and an empty express train is leaving. And, of course, the express train that arrives a few minutes later is packed. I would bet money that a radio conversation between two conductors goes a little something like this:

No. 1 local train conductor: "I'm approaching 96 Street. What's your 20?"
No. 2 express train conductor: "Roger that. We're at 96. 'Bout to leave now."
No. 1 local train conductor: "Wait for it ... wait for it ... ok, I'm pulling in! Shut the door! Go! Go!"

In the big scheme of things, switching to an express train between 96th and 42nd Street generally only saves me about 5-10 minutes, and as my best friend mumbles to people who are rudely in a rush: "If you're in that much of a hurry, you should have left yesterday."

But I think New Yorkers would generally be happier in the morning if the conductor would make announcements like:
"Welcome to 96th Street. It's a beautiful day in New York City. Transfer is available to the express 2 and 3 trains. A downtown 3 just left 110th Street and will be arriving in 2 minutes."

Maybe they do make announcements like this already; I wouldn't know because I can't usually understand the conductor. In any case, this morning I was annoyed as I watched a no. 3 express train arrive at 96th as we left on the no. 1 local, but I was weirdly comforted moments later when the no. 3 had not overtaken us at 72nd Street, and at 66th Street we began pacing a no. 2 express, which was moving very slowly and stopping frequently.

From an almost empty no. 1 local train, the look of discomfort and disdain is clearly visible on the face of an anonymous commuter pressed against the door of a packed no. 2 express train.
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As we sped away on our local train, leaving the express train in our dust, I rode comfortably seated into the 42nd Street-Times Square station and began a lovely New York day.
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