Less Is More?

A visit to the LIRR’s main concourse at NYP reveals that the LIRR’s only restrooms, and the dingy waiting room between them, have vanished behind a wall of plywood. (Not noticed: did we also lose that famous overhead structure said to be one of the last pieces of the old Penn Station?). A sign only says, “Rest rooms available on the upper level.” (Those would be those of NJT and NJT/Amtrak; there was no signage pointing the way.) What’s going to replace them?  Dunno; perhaps they are building new facilities and a waiting room, possibly expanding into the space of the now-gone Tracks bar, which should be right behind the closed restrooms.  Or maybe instead it will be something that makes money for the MTA, like a pot dispensary maybe?
I have to say that a lot of the vaunted “improvements” that MTA and NY State in general have been making to NYP have not produced much for the actual riders who are supposed to benefit.  Within the last year, they opened what looks like a magnificent set of escalators to a new LIRR entrance at 7 Av and 33 St.  It looks great in the politicians’ photo ops, but the foot of the new escalators is smack in the way of the great number of riders who arrive or depart the station via the 7th Ave. subway, and also those who rely on the corridor to the years-ago-added entrance on 34 St just west of 7th Ave. (For those who haven’t been to the city in a few decades, this was all directly in front of the old LIRR ticket windows, and roughly where the octagonal information booth once stood—all gone now.)  All of these crowds collide with the folks using the new 33 St entrance.  At peak hours, like when I was there yesterday at 5:10 p.m., it becomes downright dangerous, with lemmings headed for their trains colliding with arriving passengers and themselves.  Many of these “dashing commuters” are running full-tilt to make their trains.  It’s a real zoo.

Continue Reading Less Is More?

London Subway Plans 24-Hour Service

Most lines on the New York subway system run continuously, except for planned work programs that sometimes reroute service.  Therefore, metropolitan area transit users may not realize that most urban rapid transit systems do not run all the time; this strategy reduces costs and allows needed maintenance to proceed unhindered by thundering trains.

In London, the Underground—London’s rapid transit system—has never run all night long. This may be changing, according to reporting by Katrin Bennhold in The New York Times (Nov. 22).  The Underground will begin running all night starting in 2015, a campaign promise of London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson.  The transition may not be easy, especially since Transport for London plans to cut costs at the same time, notably in closing ticket offices, eliminating about 750 jobs in the process.  Union leaders have forecast labor strife.  Ticketing and the present “smart” card, the Oyster card, will be phased out starting next year in favor of direct payments using bank debit cards.  Ten years ago, ticket windows sold 10% of the tickets used on the system; now that’s down to only 3%.  The nighttime service will begin first on Friday and Saturday nights on 5 lines in 2015 and will then expand to other lines and nights of the week.

See the complete story (limited access) at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/22/business/international/london-subway-system-plans-24-hour-service.html

NY Subways Set One-Day Record

New York City Subway ridership set a modern one-day record on Thursday, October 24, 2013, when 5,985,311 riders were counted entering the system, according to reporting by Matt Flegenheimer in The New York Times (Nov. 21).  This is the highest one-day count since the subway started recording daily ridership in 1985.  Subway officials say there was nothing happening in particular on that day, but that ridership tends to increase in the fall, when people have returned from summer travels, and that for some reason, Thursdays seem to have the highest ridership.  The previous record was set about a year earlier, when 5,938,726 riders used the system on October 11, 2012—also a Thursday.