Tuesday, October 28

Rain and commuting patterns

Today it was back to working regular hours, which translated into more-crowded trains. It was raining heavily when I left the house, which made me really appreciate the small scale of Medford station. It took only about 20 seconds to get to my car to the platform shelter, though even that short time was enough to get my jacket quite wet. At Ronkonkoma the car-platform journey would have taken several times as long. Speaking of Ronkonkoma, more people than usual seemed to be taking the 6:56 to Flatbush Avenue rather than waiting for the 7:04 to Penn, presumably because of the weather. While most of the platforms have canopies, the rain protection is less than perfect, especially when it’s windy. Moreover, the idea of waiting on a rainy platform when it’s still mostly dark out just isn’t pleasant even if one is standing in a dry spot. So it’s not surprising that some people decided to take the Flatbush Avenue train and change at Jamaica, rather than wait longer for a direct Penn Station train. I was riding near the middle of the consist, and the car was over half-full even before we left, which is unusual for that train. There also seemed to be more noisy cell phone talkers than usual, which reinforced my suspicion that the train was carrying some people who normally would be going to Penn. My iPod got quite a workout trying to drown out the endless chatter. I knew that the seat next to me would get taken in short order, and sure enough a woman in her early 20’s took it at Central Islip. She wasn’t really overweight but had that broad-beamed physique found in many younger woman. It made for a slightly tight but overall tolerable fit. She got off at Mineola and a slightly older but similarly wide-hipped woman took her place. The second woman was wearing a thick cloth coat that made the fit even tighter, something I’ve noticed before. Still, it could have been worse, much worse, and I had an empty seat next to me for the Jamaica-Flatbush stretch. The very high number of people getting off at Jamaica was confirmation that my guess was correct, and that the morning’s rain caused a shift in normal commuting patterns. We arrived in Brooklyn on time and the wait for a 4 express to Fulton was a longer-than-usual but still sort of acceptable six or seven minutes.

Oh – an update on the disability retirement fiasco, it’s now come out that some LIRR managers may have advised workers on the best way to get disability pensions from the federal retirement board.  If proven, this might mean that some LIRR management heads will roll, even though the federal government actually granted these dubious pensions.  How sweet that would be.

Once again the Eighth Avenue line was behaving quite well in the afternoon. I waited less than a minute for an A train at Broadway-Nassau, found a seat right away, and the car was skell-free. Surely, this good behavior isn’t going to last. I made it to Penn in time to catch the 5:22 to Ronkonkoma, or what should have been in time to catch that train. A walk along the platform for more than half the length of the train looking in the windows – also known as the External Baby Elephant Walk – made it clear that the train was a complete cattle train. Three or four minutes before departure, when I first got to the platform and started looking, nothing was left except middle seats and the occasional aisle seat next to an elephantine SCA. I made it almost to the end of the train by the time the door-closing beeps began, still no luck. At the last minute I decided to do something unusual and got the 5:23 Long Beach train on the adjacent track. I rode this nicely uncrowded train to Jamaica, where I changed to the also nicely uncrowded Ronkonkoma train that originates in Hunter’s Point Avenue. It’s been weeks or months since I’ve taken these trains, I don’t know why. Both are far less crowded than direct train to Ronkonkoma, indeed no one sat next to me on either one, and the transfer at Jamaica is a complete no-brainer using the same platform. I’ll have to try this more often.

Gym: a rest day today.

Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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