Thursday, January 11, 2007

Public Tranportation Holiday

airport emptiness

I feel like a fool.

Over the Xmas break, i had a ridiculous amount of ideas to fill up this space.

Can't remember for the life of me.

This is why a notepad and pen are important.

I'm sure Edward R. Murrow kept one for ideas in his blog.

Consisting of the wall to the lobby of his building.

Which he would scrawl upon late at night. Cigarette in hand.

There's one thing i do remember:

I had an excellent Public Transportation Holiday!

Yes. I took the Red Line to South Station, no waits.

no one stared at me with suspicion.*

*(Since 9-11, i'm always sensitive about how i am perceived on public transit. i had some run-ins with the jerk who ran the shuttle bus to work in that time period. that and the ongoing stories of brown asian/middle eastern people being discriminated against for existing. glad i didnt take the plane. i would've had to walk from Hartford after an emergency landing).

Jumped on the Amtrak. Got a ride home from good old dad, so that maybe didn't count.

But after that. I got schedule-wise on the bus when i'd visit the city.

You see, the 167 is a NJ Transit bus that stops near my home. It goes from Harrington Park (which i have no conception of) to NYC Port Authority Bus Terminal (a glowing picture of humanity if there ever was one).

Not bad. When we're driving into the city from Bergenfield, it takes about 15-20 minutes.

But the 167 has its moods.

Before I got schedule-wise, it could either take you there quickly or take the amount of time it takes to go from Boston to Providence just to make the seemingly small trip across the river. It would go down through Washington St in my town which magically transforms into Teaneck Road, heads down that forever, stopping along the way. Heads to the NJ Turnpike, which made you think you were on your way, but no. It would get on and off the turnpike and stop at office parks and parking lots. At some points seemingly going backwards. Then a little more turnpike, and you can see the city clearly in the skyline. You think yr almost there. Then it gets off the highway to wind through Union City and take the back way into the Lincoln Tunnel. I don't know how familiar you are with the Port Authority, but it is not the place that makes you feel as if your long journey was worth it.

Don't even get me started on the 167Q route that goes onto Queen Anne Rd through Teaneck and looks like its going to get onto the Turnpike and then goes even further down Teaneck Rd than you ever thought was possible and even then STILL makes every stop imaginable, with the bus at standing room, some jerk working on his laptop and coughing next to you for an hour.

But this holiday weekend, i was hooked on a drug.

It was called 167X: Teaneck Armory Express.

It was a bus that seemingly came at random before. It would go through my town, acting like normal, up to the border with Teaneck, where there is a gigantic armory. Many people would get on there. We would then proceed down Teaneck Road and there would be NO MORE STOPS! It would get onto the highway and get the F out to the Lincoln Tunnel and boom. Glorious Port Authority.

I wanted to create a song to glorify the 167X: Teaneck Armory Express. It would be based on Kraftwerk's 'Trans Europe Express'. It wouldn't even require much lyrical change.

Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express


Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express


Rendezvous on Broadway
Leave Bergenfield in the morning on T.A.E.
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express


In the Port Authority we sit in a late-night cafe
Straight connection, T.A.E.
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express


From stop to station
back to New York City
Meet Iggy Pop and David Bowie
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express
Teaneck Armory Express


Anyhow, this was the case on the two days hanging out in NYC with Ria. Good bus, good subway karma. Hardly any waiting. Even for the Brooklyn Shuttle between the poorly linked Brooklyn routes of the Q and the A/C.

Ria drives the train

Even the Air Train was smooth.

airtrain opening

Topping the list of Public Transportation Holiday was the first time I'd ever ridden on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Considering how much its griped about, I thought it would be on a level worse than our MBTA Commuter Rail. Basically benches nailed to the floor of a storage container.

How wrong I was.

LIRR Jamaica

It was the paragon of what a suburban rail network should be. The station i entered the system, Jamaica, was ultra informative. It had MONITORS to TELL YOU WHEN THE TRAIN IS COMING. In Massachusetts, we are told that this technology does not exist or is impossible to create. Perhaps in another hundred years maybe. These "monitors" even said if the train was peak or off-peak so as to make even that possibly confusing bit of information more clear. In MBTAland, we have photocopied pieces of paper taped to things in the subway to make the fares make some sense.

And the cars of the LIRR train I took to Penn Station were NEW and CLEAN. Had COMFORTABLE SEATS. Displays and clear announcements that told you WHERE THE TRAIN IS GOING and WHAT STATION IS NEXT. It was like EUROPE! I even had a choice of whether to take this train or an EXPRESS.

I apologize for the writing in bold. In case some person at the MBTA is reading, i wanted to make things even more clear. But if politicians, the mass media, millions of people can't make the MBTA pull its head out of its ass, a poorly visited blog can hardly make a difference. But i still TRY.

Still. It was a glorious Public Transportation Holiday.

I took the bus from Bergenfield (unfortunately, the only one that fit my schedule was the hellish 167Q: Queen Anne Road / Union City) to the PABT. I did not take the subway as i find it a little silly in good weather to take the train the few blocks from 42nd to 34th and Penn Station.

Amtrak to Boston - South Station. Red Line to Central. I am home. I don't know why this is so hard for this country to figure out and not be scared of. I DID NOT DRIVE. scary.


After a flash New Years Eve party at Sue and Vanessa's

Rat Pack

I went with Carolyn to her central Mass homeland.

Carolyn and I in the fields

on the Commuter Rail. Though we needed to get picked up at Fitchburg and drive 45 minutes, it was sort of unavoidable. Perhaps one day the Commuter Rail will be closer, but that is not this day.

I was to return alone. There was a weird guy who got on the train at Fitchburg with me. He followed whatever I was doing. We had to get on the end of the train. But how far back? I guessed. I was wrong. The guy follows me.

By the time we arrived at Porter Square, where I get off for the Red Line, I was a little confused. Because this is the MBTA/MBCR Commuter Rail, there are hardly any announcements and none that are audible. The conductors occasionally yell out and ask who's getting off at the next station. This is because if no one answers and no one is at the station, the train can just speed by, which it did on occasion. To help matters, the cars all have windows that are seemingly made of plastic milk cartons that have been scratched out so that you can almost see whats outside in the daytime. But at night, Massachusetts is pitch dark. Stations are the same, though there is a red blob where the LCD sign may say any amount of information like what day it is and what time, but no other usable information.

We arrived at Porter, which I only discerned by the amount of people getting up and the amount of time that had passed since we stopped at Brandeis and gone through the nameless stations (apparently people in places like Waltham, Waverly and Belmont are psychically connected to their stations).

The man was confused as I got up to leave. He mumbled something about Boston and I was confused. I told him that I was getting off here at Porter and that he could stay on the train and go to North Station. He was relieved at the news. I Red Lined it home.

i hope this wasn't bewildering and confusing like the MBTA fare increase and not as boring as the 167Q.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How can you speak of beautiful port authority in such a manner. I love port authority. The massive non-sensical layout always confuses, the vagrants asking for 50 cents, the smell of the food court. My favorite part was always the fact that connecting from Honesdale through NY to BOS I had to go from one end, buy my ticket at the peter pan, then go all the way to the bowels of the station to catch the Shortline home. Just thinking about it gives me happy goosebumps!