Monday, August 20, 2007

Service Changes

Looking at this image, one might imagine that it's a postmodern interpretation of a bowl of spaghetti, or perhaps a flowchart representing a baboon's thought processes. Maybe it's an outline of the capillaries in one's pancreas, or maybe it's the circuit board on one of those new Japanese vibrators, the ones that simutaneously tittillate and download the latest top 40 hits.

It's hard to imagine that this seemingly random hodgepodge of lines and dots could possibly be intended to convey information, much less direct a confused traveler on the best route between two points. However, that's exactly what this image is intended to do. You see, this is the famous New York City MTA map. Personally, I'm starting to be convinced that this map is designed to obscure the fact that, using the subway, it takes almost half an hour for my wife to travel the two or three miles between our home and her work. What's even more telling is that my wife often brags about the brevity and speed of her commute.

I'm not going to comment on the weirdness of the subway, or the byzantine set of rules and favors that underlay its almost fractal structure. No, that's well-trodden territory, and I am taking a pass. More to the point, I still don't really understand the beast, so I'm taking the wise route out and letting it lie.

One thing I have noticed is the havok that a rainstorm can wreak on an apparently stable and well-ordered system. Recently, my wife has regaled me with tales of the disastrous service she's had to endure. Apparently, the horrifying weather has flooded many of the tunnels, so the city has been shutting down subway lines at a moment's notice, re-routing trains, making local lines express and express lines local, and generally making life a lot more exciting. In a bad way.

At any rate, she sent me this piece on subway lines in New York. Anyone who has ever found himself or herself sitting in a car in massive traffic because of road work should be able to relate. If you live in the city...well, it isn't really a joke, is it?

MTA New York City Transit

Service Alert

Posted on:8/8/2007 4:27:05 PM

Due to a single droplet of water falling from the sky mistaken for rain that was actually condensation from an air conditioner in a 17th floor apartment, there are delays on the following subway lines:

1 trains are running between 14th Street and 18th Street in both directions.

2 and 3 uptown trains will terminate at 96th Street, as they are afraid to go into Harlem.

4, 5, and 6 trains will be making two loops around Central Park before getting you to your destination, because they need some fresh air.

7 trains are enjoying a hot dog and beer at Willets Point-Shea Stadium and will resume normal operation once the game is over.

A, B, C and D trains are not running at all, because they really just don’t have time for your crap today.

E trains are running express in Manhattan, enjoying the nice cool breeze they get from going 30 miles an hour.

F and V trains are stuck in some neighborhood in Queens that you’ve never heard of.

G trains are currently experiencing an inferiority complex and will not run until further notice/counseling.

J, M, and Z trains are running normally, of course, since nobody ever uses these trains.

L trains are running between Princeton Junction and Hoboken. We really can’t explain how they ended up there.

N and Q trains are currently running on the Cyclone track at Coney Island-Stillwell Ave.

R and W trains are feeling nostalgic right now, and are currently running over the Brooklyn Bridge.

S service is suspended between Times Square-42nd Street and Grand Central-42nd Street. You can just walk. You do have legs, don’t you?

We would apologize for the inconvenience, but we like to watch you suffer. Thank you for riding with MTA New York City Transit!

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  • So, someone said, "Let's dig big drainage ditches under the city and put trains in them. Brilliant, right?

    By Blogger Spellbound, At August 21, 2007 at 12:14 AM  

  • By the power vested in my as a native New Yawker, born in Que Gardens, I hereby pronounce you an Officially Jaded New Yawker. Now step aside son and let the Pros show you how it's done.

    By Blogger The CEO, At August 21, 2007 at 12:54 AM  

  • Same thing with the railway system over here - the worst excuse given being that there were 'leaves on the line' - I kid you not.

    As to the tube, it has it's own byzantine system of rules, but thankfully, a beautifully designed map.


    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At August 21, 2007 at 5:22 AM  

  • half an hour really isn't bad you know. Wife is doing good. I remember once getting stuck in a smoking car for hours as a young teen. Back when they had smoking allowed on the trains. That was the worst, probably why I remember it so well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 21, 2007 at 8:57 AM  

  • Spellbound-
    I think you got it in a nutshell. Add on to this pumps that can clear up to 1.5 inches per hour and then get a few big rainstorms.

    Pure brilliance!

    I thought the Devil went down to Georgia, not up to the city!

    Maybe it's just a matter of early influences, but I've always been a big fan of the London Subway. Clean, well-ordered, and with named lines. Besides, it goes everywhere!

    Reflecting Pool-
    Actually, it isn't a bad commute. That's what's so bizarre. Recently, she was telling a friend that it only takes us about an hour and a half to get to Coney Island. The friend googled it and discovered that it's about ten miles or so. In a car, of course, it would take more like two hours, not to mention the time required to find a parking space.

    New York mass transit does weird things to your sense of time.

    By Blogger Crankster, At August 21, 2007 at 10:37 AM  

  • Not to mention space. Time and space are on completely different dimesions in NYC than the rest of the planet.

    and it really really really fucks me up when people from other dimensions of time and space enter into the NYC dimension and are completely slow/bewildered/oblivious.

    Or when I have to, say, call our bank in rural Virginia. And they speak very very slowly, and say things like "It'll get done... eventually." AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    By Blogger misanthropster, At August 22, 2007 at 10:29 PM  

  • Hey Bruce,

    Sara M. told me you left the Tech, and I traced back in your blog and read a little bit about it. I'm behind the times, I guess.

    Since your Tech email is no longer, I had to post this your blog:

    I'm two weeks into the M.D. program at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Being "the English major" is hurting me in some classes, but I wouldn't go back and do it differently. Thank you for helping me reach this point.

    By Blogger Chris, At August 26, 2007 at 10:51 AM  

  • I love the confusion sometimes when people try to figure out which train is the local and which is the express and people from both parallel trains are running to switch.

    It's like a Chinese fire drill, really. How appropriate for Manhattan.

    By Blogger M@, At August 26, 2007 at 2:19 PM  

  • LOL..this is true to an extent, but you have to admit that when they work it's an excellent system that lets you go anywhere in all the boroughs...I take them all over at lunch time!

    By Blogger Odat, At August 30, 2007 at 12:34 PM  

  • Glad to see you've joined the hot blogging trend of not blogging. Cheers.

    By Anonymous John, At August 30, 2007 at 1:51 PM  

  • Amazing. Simply amazing.

    I go and google the amazingly original screen-name I thought up for myself, and not only do I find that there's another Cranky Bastard out there, but he's from Christiansburg, only a few miles from me! What are the odds?

    Anyway, you're doing some hilarious work here, my friend. I can only hope that I'm doing the Cranky Bastard title proud...

    - Brian the Cranky Bastard
    Roanoke, VA

    By Anonymous Brian H. Stanley, At September 14, 2007 at 8:55 AM  

  • Have they eaten you alive in the Big Apple, Big Guy??

    By Blogger Lex, At September 24, 2007 at 8:53 PM  

  • Nope. Still here. A little the worse for wear, though!

    By Blogger Crankster, At October 23, 2007 at 5:46 PM  

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