Everybody Please Leave The Train: This Train Is Going Out Of Service

Vantage Points Header Joel Elveson

If you are lucky enough (I don’t know if luck is the most appropriate term) to have to rely on MTA subways, buses, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North or Long Island Bus the words leave the train (bus) as it is going out of service for no apparent reason is common place to you. Our MTA is one of the most complicated system s to effectively run as it has more branches than a centipede has legs.

The system for years has been plagued by corruption and mismanagement. The current MTA Chairman and CEO is Thomas F. Prendergast whose transit experience encompasses a stint at the Chicago Transit Authority (an ant hill compared to New York) before tackling TransLink which is the public transportation system in Vancouver. Vancouver does not have anywhere near the ridership or various divisions that the MTA has. By now you are getting a picture of a system that cannot be run by one person (certainly can’t be run by Mr. Prendercast) no matter how many maidservants he has.

We know what effective leadership looks like and how things run under it. That is not the case here. When the Mayor of the City is unaware that a stop order halting all bus, subway and rail service has been issued clearly you have the Three Stooges in charge instead of seasoned transportation executives.

To illustrate what this bumbling “executive” is doing is number shutting down a whole subway line (although the tunnels were damaged by Hurricane Sandy) thereby cutting off subway service to neighborhoods that are in the middle of revitalization with new middle class housing units, schools, shopping, etc. Hearing the news about the impending shut down of this subway line has halted all progress that was being made in bringing these areas of Brooklyn back to life. The L train runs from Brooklyn to Manhattan directly underneath these areas. An alternate proposal being floated is let the trains run into Manhattan in the morning and to Brooklyn in the evening. What happens in the middle is anybody’s guess. The MTA needs your ideas as they have no workable ones of their own.

new york subwayA tree fell on Brooklyn (The D train which I ride frequently) elevated subway tracks bringing service to a screeching halt in both directions last Friday. The platforms were getting crowded to the point that passengers were forced to stand near the edge of the platform. No announcement was ever made unless you run downstairs to the harried “token clerk” who had news just no way of getting it up to the platform level. Is this what you would consider to be leadership?

During the heat of this drama it was suggested by the token clerk passengers walk about a half mile (give or take) to the N train. The problem with that suggestion is that the N train due to station “rehabilitation” the N train is not stopping at that station in the Manhattan bound side. All you could do was take the Coney Island bound N train where you would have been stuck since this greedy tree was blocking the tracks out of Coney Island. Somebody please help us as our leaders right now could not find their way out of a paper bag if you put a hole in it for them.

Many of the elevated stations on several of the subway lines that service Brooklyn are in need of repair. Instead of fixing a couple of stations at a time the MTA is repairing (if you see somebody actually working please call the police as something like work to many MTA workers is illegal) a whole section of each line at the same time. You have to take a train going in the opposite direction you are going to catch a train several stops down the line so you then have to take a train back to where you wanted to go. How can you pretend to lead a system as big as this one and come up with this imbecilic strategy? Many exists on these stations are closed as well even when a train stops there so you can get off at your stop but you can’t get down to street level.

How do you “rehabilitate” the majority of the elevated train stations across several lines without the manpower to get this monumental project completed in a short duration of time so as not to inconvenience passengers? Why do several stations at several subway lines all at the same time. If you have heard “You Can’t Get There From Here” they are probably talking about the New York City Subway system. After they finish (who know what century that will be in) one side they intend to start work on the other side. Has anybody seen Charlie Brown to ask for his help?

If the subways aren’t enough of a task to keep running safely and efficiently there is also the tow commuter railroads that the MTA operates as well. This is the only system where your train is considered to have arrived at its destination as long as it is no later than 4:49 late. Tell your boss you are not late because the railroad considers you to be on time even though you are late. Weather (even sunny days) trees (yes those troublesome tress again), falling rocks, birds, etc. all add to the woe of this system. What kind of leader would run rail lines that stretch into New Jersey and Connecticut to be interrupted by nature and bad equipment as well as often as this system is. What you have been presented with is just the tip of the iceberg as we forget about the “if you see something say something” announcements that blare out loud with alarming regularity. Can somebody PLEASE tell us what is it we are supposed to see so that we can say something to a Transit Officer (good luck finding one) or perhaps our friend the token clerk? We do know that large back packs, etc. are subject to random search by police if you are at a major hub. If you are at a neighborhood stop I Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens (except for Jamaica Station in Queens where the Long Island Rail Road meets the subway) chances are nobody will notice you no matter what you are doing or wearing that might be deemed to be of a suspicious nature.

That helps grow other leaders who will hopefully grow other leaders. The MTA is too large and too complex to have one CEO. The MTA needs leaders who actually were at the controls of a subway train, signal maintainer, etc. as they know how to best run things and who is best qualified to lead. Men in stylish Italian designer suits who sit behind desks and are chauffeur driven from place to place to take on this responsibility are not who you would choose to run this system. The Long Island Bus System is yet another arm of the MTA that also has trouble with time and scheduling. Only the drivers know how to schedule but they are too consumed with trying to navigate clumsy buses on streets where they don’t belong.

IN conclusion all I can say is TAXI PLEASE!

Joel Elveson
Joel Elvesonhttps://jelveson.wixsite.com/recruitersite
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    • Sandy, you hit the nail on the head when you said: “that is the government for you.” The fares go up but the service goes down. As frustrating as it gets sometimes in terms of service, equipment breakdowns and alike I do not see us moving back up to the suburbs where if you don’t have a car you are stuck. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • My pleasure, Joel. We have issues here with our local and provincial governments as well…..they are all a pain!

    • Government is great when it comes to raising our taxes and spending tha5 money just as soon as they get in grubby hands

    • I think all governments are pretty much the same, lots of promises before the election and then once in do what they want.

    • We who vote them in would be able to vote them out midterm if they are not properly representing their community’s as we expect them to. Often times they do not consult their constituency before casting a vote on a bill that we are for or against

    • Sandy, I agree with your statement 100%! Please send along my regards to your husband. While I have said this before I would love to sit down to dinner with both you.

    • and one day we likely will. Not sure when we will go to New York again but we do love to visit, go to the museums, see some shows and go to some good restaurants. We always have a good time when we go. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend with your family. Wednesday we fly to Toronto to spend Pesach with our son, daughter-in-law and 2 little grandsons. We do this every year. We will be there for almost 2 weeks.

    • Takes too long to drive to Toronto so flying is the best option. I used to love flying, not so much any more but for long distances, it is still the best mode of transport.

    • Flying is too scary for me. I feel so much safer on the ground. If I had to travel beyond the next state I would use Amtrack.

    • Fair enough. I do not mind flying, I just do not care for the process we have to go through now with security, luggage checks, etc. It all takes too long.

    • 30,000 feet above the ground does not make me feel good. If G-d forbid something goes wrong chances are it’s over. Subway or railroad crashes are rarely fatal. Cars have a ton of accident. But a car accident can mean one car bumping into each other or other minor ones. There are DWI crashes that can be fatal but all, in the end, I would rather take my chances on the ground as opposed to in the air.

    • whatever works…..but again, long distances, air travel is best and although many air crashes are fatal there are not very many of them and there are many, many more car & train accidents. If places are close, I am happy to bus it, train it, walk, etc. but thousands of miles, put me on a plane.

    • My middle name is chicken. I give myself insulin several times a day I am afraid to go to the dentist because of the needles.

    • You are not alone in that one, Joel. I practised Dental Hygiene for over 40 years so I know about nervous patients. the general view tends to be this: we go to the dentist, they hurt us and we pay. We tried our best to put patients at ease by gaining their trust and my dad often used hypnosis rather than injections of anaesthetic for patients afraid of injections.

    • Dentists scare me. The thought of Dental Surgery is terrifying. Two eye surgeries where I had to be put out using anesthesia through an IV was no big deal. Sticking my finger several times per day plus insulin shots several times a day which can hurt if I hit the wrong spot on my stomach are no issue. Blood tests, Flu Vaccine, or the Pneumonia Vaccine are also not an issue. Novocaine injections are a big deal. Just the sight of the needle scares me. Figure that one out.

    • Again, you are not alone, Joel, many people are afraid of needles. the mouth is a very sensitive place and that is why many people are not happy with injections there.