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
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!