Monday, September 24, 2012

If I were dictator of NJ Transit, I would:

-Lower the prices by so very, very, much.

-Insist on a week-long orientation in public transit, during which commuters ride the NYC subways at peak hours, to learn that public transportation is not your own car. By which I mean, for example, that I'd...

-Ask that the passengers be just a little less vigorously flatulent in the mornings. I'm not a gastroenterologist or an expert in Central NJ dining habits, so I don't know exactly what's causing this epidemic, but seriously, folks. You're not by yourself, or with a forgiving loved one.

-Institute some kind of rhyme or reason to filing onto and off of the trains, so that this isn't a chaotic stampede every morning and evening. It should be clearly marked on the platform where the doors open, and there should be lines, first-come, first-served. And when you arrive in Penn Station, the escalator should work. And there shouldn't also be a train leaving from that platform or the one across from it, leading to stampedes in both directions, and making it so that a good portion of the commute, time-wise, is just getting from platform-level to station-level. 

-Make it known that the world will not end, non-black passengers, if you spend 30-90 minutes sitting next to a black person. Stop being such racists. I mean, I know, that black guy in a business suit going to work at 7:30 am looks soooo menacing. Ugh.

-Instruct passengers to - as the NYU posters advise - "cover your cough." Yes, that would be you, dude sitting across from me, showing your obvious concern for humanity by coughing in my face and littering below your seat. 

-Ban the sale of artificial-butter-flavored popcorn in the stations. It's currently all over NY and evidently Newark Penn Station. At the very least, ban its consumption on the train itself. This is the worst smell known to man and is actually - vindicated! - toxic. 

-Give people who can't get over the fact that Newark and New York both have train stations named Penn, or that the earth is round, a five-minute window during which they can express their wonder at the world, then they must find some silent (but not deadly) activity.

-Ban outright large groups that get on, read aloud the message about how you're supposed to "speak softly and be considerate," laugh and shout about how that's not their group, haha, oh no, then go on to shout at ever-louder volumes all manner of who knows, everything from football news to wondering aloud what 9/11 was (a terrorist attack, some of the older-and-wiser members of this group agreed, evidently committed by Muslim polytheists whose gods wanted it), to mocking New York accents in the form of incredibly exaggerated Chicago accents, to wondering aloud more loudly still, again again and again, why the train is moving backwards (helllloooo, that's how the seats are, that's how it goes on a train, live with it!, I did not say), to playing Britney Spears on a device without so much as a pretext of headphones. Let people constitutionally incapable of riding a train find some other route to the airport. 


Jeff said...

Get that drivers license, start to enjoy the car lifestyle. You'll soon come to see transit riders, and transit advocates, for what they are - dangerous cultists.

Phoebe said...

Yeah, this isn't really the example to pick to make your case. Commuting, in rush hour, into a busy part of lower Manhattan? Tolls and parking costing about what the train would? This is not the freedom of the open road. Price-wise, hassle-wise, time-wise, it's probably worse than the train.

I remain firmly in the pro-transit camp, although I see this as an ideal for society, not as something to be followed by people with lives where a car is clearly the only way to go. (Don't bike on Route 1, folks.)

PG said...

I'm reasonably adaptable between car and transit cultures: give me a car, I'll also get a big box credit card and load up the trunk; put me back in NYC or DC and I can stop worrying about the designated driver. But I think some people are temperamentally unsuited for one or the other. You're noting many who shouldn't be on the train. I've ridden in cars with people who haven't spent most of their adulthood driving and get way too angry about every infraction by their fellow drivers. This gets compounded if they're moved from small towns linked by multi-lane uncrowded highways, to suburbs and big cities with bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Phoebe said...


But the whiny drivers annoy only their own passengers. It's obviously more dangerous if someone is driving who can't (but there is licensing). Someone on the train who doesn't get what that means is shouting, playing music, and eating (and littering) artificial-butter popcorn before a whole lot more people, people who did not sign up for that person's idiosyncrasies.

Slightly off-topic, but today I saw a bus driver kind of parallel park (not between cars, but that method) and flawlessly. And I'm there thinking, if this can be done effortlessly with a bus, I need to stop overanalyzing how it goes with a sedan.

Britta said...

Taking the redline during Cubs games is the worst, because it's filled with suburban people who only take public transit to go to Cubs games. Once a group of youngish people got on with a giant cooler, set it down right in front of the door, and sat on it and then started being really loud. I missed my stop because they were blocking the door and by the time I got them to move, the train had already started moving. >:(

Also, for buses, I hate people who refuse to walk up the back steps when the bus is crowded. This happens all the time in HP, to the point they should have a traffic controller who grabs people and forces them up the steps. The only exception is if you're getting off at the next stop, but then you have to get out of the way and let everyone else walk up to the back.