I Hate The MTA
… and I’ll bet the house I’m not alone on that.
I know some of you have not a clue what I’m talking about, especially when you hear me ranting about it every other day. The MTA — the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York — controls the subway system, local buses and express buses, along with railroads to Long Island and upstate New York. I have used them all over the years, but while Long Island residents may have their beefs with the LIRR (Long Island Railroad) and cats from Poughkeepsie and Newburgh may have qualms about the Metro Nawf (Metro North Railroad), it is the NEW YORK CITY transit that I use daily and grinds my gears (no pun).
I swear it is always something:
— Express Bus (X10), which I had to take because the final X12 of the night DIDN’T COME AT ALL (something that has been occurring with greater frequency since about mid May) one Friday night about a month ago — gets shot at by a gun. A passenger was barely missed with the bullet as the window was cracked. This was one of a dozen buses shot at or having had rocks hurled at it in a two week period on Staten Island. I went from getting home at 9:30 (normal time for the last X12) to 11:45, after the bus naturally had to stall for 20 minutes while the DOT dispatcher (protocol) arrived and the boys were called in since shots were fired. We sit accosted for that long while, then they give us an option to wait for the next express bus (30-45 minutes) or catch local buses (from Narrows Road, mere blocks from the Verrazano Bridge, which is a THREE FARE TRIP for me) so I said “SCREW IT” and walked from Narrows and Hylan, through Rosebank, Stapleton, Clifton, Tompkinsville — down Bay Street all the way to the Ferry and caught the 48.
AND THIS DOESN’T EVEN QUALIFY AS A FREAK OCCURRENCE FOR ME.
Yet people ask why I am always so irritated with the MTA.
If it’s not situations like this, it’s:
— Buses coming 30 minutes behind schedule
— Buses NOT COMING AT ALL
— MTA cutting Express Bus service to the northern Bronx, outer reaches of Queens and Brooklyn and the very areas on Staten Island that need them most, as residents of the Tottenville and Mariners Harbor sections of the island are the furthest away from the rest of the city than any other area accessible by railway or bus; rendering its residents to EASILY 2 1/2 commutes one way into midtown Manhattan otherwise
— Fare-hikes and threats of further fare-hikes, even in the face of newly raised taxes as of July 1, 2010 (God help you if you smoke Newports, a pack can run you $14 in some spots — I wish I were lying, but I’ve seen it)
— Delays on the subway during peak hour
— Cutting the V and W lines, even though they alleviated a lot of the 6th and 7th avenue clutter in Manhattan, especially the W
— Local bus drivers on Staten Island driving extremely slow, arriving at the Ferry Terminal either a couple of minutes or 10-15 FULL minutes behind schedule and causing people to be up to an hour late to work, interviews, appointments, parties, personal obligations, etc. (FYI: You miss a boat ride and you can wait at least 30 minutes for the next and sometimes over an hour, as I did once again tonight leaving Whitehall Terminal — as they randomly decide they’re just not going to send a boat for an hour; seemingly always when I am in a rush)
— The weekend blitz of tourists, residents going out and the construction (when it appears they are hardly ever working, but making $35/hour on OUR dime, though!) which cause subways especially to either not run at all, or grind to a complete halt (the 1-2-3 line in Harlem two weekends ago; the 1 line was at a dead standstill between 116th and 125th station and stopped for a good 10 minutes at 42nd for no reason — both the 2 and 3 lines had passed through so there were no transfers — and even after there was no 1 train present at the Whitehall/South Ferry station for 10 minutes BEFORE THAT; even though there’s a ubiquitous 1 train in the two-train terminal at all other times — then once the 1 train got above 125th, it sat for about 5-7 minutes and moved at less than 3 miles an hour [I’m not joking] until it got to the City College stop at 137th street. If you’re scoring at home, a typically 25-30 minute ride turned into an hour-long trip. I missed out on $350 because of it, because my client got tired of waiting and called to tell me she was leaving).
And you still wouldn’t know the half with my beef regarding the MTA.
I hate staying out at nights unless I’m crashing with friends in the Bronx or family back in Harlem, I avoid doing so. ESPECIALLY if I have to commute to Staten Island after midnight. Forget it. Trains don’t run at all in some cases, and there are no signs posted in areas UNTIL you’ve already passed through the turnstile and see them posted after sitting for 30 minutes wondering WTF is going on.
I’ve been riding the subway and using buses since the fare was $1.25 (and can remember it being half that when I was about 8 or 9) and we were using tokens and the MetroCard was a novelty and an “OPTION ONLY” deal. The experience using the subways and buses has gotten gradually worse since the mid-late 90s and RAPIDLY worse over the past 5 years (with the sharpest fare hikes coming in that same time frame, not coincidentially *smirk*).
In line with my previous column apologizing to my friends who invite me to parties, events, etc., this is the main reason why. I have a dear friend who lives in the ass end of the Bronx. I commuted to her house and right back within a half hour or so of being at her place. That was the equivalent to an entire WORK DAY for some people. It took me three hours to get there and 4 1/2 to get back — with only a 30 minute detour for food and coffee being the outlier here. You wanna know why?
I had to take the S48 to the X10. I waited 20 minutes for an S48 DURING PEAK HOUR AT 5:45, then it took 20 minutes to go one mile (I’m not joking — Born Jamel knows what I mean and probably Chris Lebron and Mindy Jenkins ha) up Forest Avenue before getting to Richmond Avenue, where I catch the X10. The X10 didn’t come for 45 minutes. I get on the X10, the driver acts like he’s escorting some starlet to a Broadway production in funeral procession traffic. It took me two hours to get to 57th Street and Lexington. I wish I were making this up. From there, I hopped on the 6. Not a bad ride, surprisingly… UNTIL I get to the Bronx and all of a sudden they have detours and construction signs abound. I was on the 6 local. The 6 express was supposedly running to Pelham Bay, but not a single sign was in any station, on the train nor at the St. Lawrence Avenue station. How was I, someone who DOESN’T live in the Bronx — supposed to know that all of a sudden the 6 wasn’t running its full route? I only had a couple more stops to go, but what that did was cause me to have to walk up Westchester until I got to her street. Time elapsed: 30 minutes.
I nearly passed out.
And it was all to get a document notarized.
While it is always good to see each of them, I had to be out, because the later I’m out in the South Bronx, the worse it is trying to commute. And nevermind the hoodrats, I’m from the hood, so seeing a guy jerking off no homo, or kids fighting right in front of me (as is almost always the case whenever I’m on the 6 out there) doesn’t figure into my irritation of riding the subway at night. But it is the infrequency of the trains and the lack of synchronization that kills me. Since this occurred on a Friday night you KNEW I was fucked. Coming back on the 6 wasn’t bad, as it stopped at every station except Brook Ave. for some reason. But whatever, I get off at 116th, went through Taft and Carver and shot the shit with the guy at the bodega at the corner before trying to get the 2-3 line at 116th and Lenox. I figure — quick express ride, get off, catch the X10 and be back in an hour at 11 PM?
I had taken the 2-3 on Thursday to go into my office and there wasn’t a sign stating the stations would be COMPLETELY closed (sure, I know the 11 PM – 5 AM deal, but COMPLETELY closed??? I don’t remember the last time I saw the Lenox Ave. stations completely closed — and each of them were: 110th, 116th, 125th, 135th, 145th and the terminal — SHEESH), so I was mildly upset. I walked up to 110th and Lenox, same deal. I got offered a plate on my way through ha, but I was on a mission because I didn’t want a 4 hour commute if I managed to have to rely upon the subway or ferry after midnight.
I had to walk across to St. Nicholas and then hooking that sharp right up to the 110th St./Cathedral Parkway station. Finally. Then the C didn’t come for 20 minutes (expected) and by then I’m starved, so I take it to 34th and go to the Lounge (Burger King). I wolfed down a good meal and was on lookout for Starbuck’s. At this point I didn’t even care anymore. I wasn’t ABOUT to get on the ferry with their tendency of not running a boat an hour at a time on some nights, so I said “fuck it” and charged my phone and iPod while having my Dark Cherry Mocha. I walked from there (Broadway and 51st) and caught the X10 at 45th and 5th (actually came quickly no homo), so after that I made the humiliating mile-long walk after a long day and didn’t wake up until 11 am the next day.
The point in all this? This isn’t even uncommon. Especially after 8:00 on weeknights, because the X12 doesn’t run on weekends nor after 8PM during the week, necessitating an X10 ride and either risking an hour-plus wait at Richmond and Forest for the 48 or WALKING after being tired and hot all day.
It happens at least once a week.
And you think with all the other shit I have to put up with I’d be loopy and grouchy all the time right? I’m amazed I haven’t offed someone.