Wednesday, February 25

Dangerous overcrowding

Today was one of those days when LIRR competence was offset by subway incompetence.  I got the shuttle from Medford, then the usual 6:56 from Ronkonkoma to Flatbush Avenue.  It was an M-3 consist once again, but after checking three cars I couldn’t find any available single seats.  It worked out okay, though, as an average-sized, non-SCA man sat next to me from Farmingdale to Jamaica.  He was no more than 185 or 190 pounds, which is practically anorectic in LIRR-rider terms, so even if it had been an M-7 he wouldn’t have infringed on my space.  On the M-3 I was scarcely even aware of his presence.  I spent most of the ride reading, and we were in Brooklyn almost before I noticed.  And that, unfortunately, is where the fun ended.  It was apparent that something was wrong because the 4/5 platform was insanely crowded.  Looking across, the 2/3 platform was almost as bad.  A 4 arrived after a few minutes, but it was so jammed that boarding was impossible.  Meanwhile, a Brooklyn-bound 5 had been sitting at the platform with its doors open, going nowhere.  Several more minutes passed with no trains arriving, though the Brooklyn-bound 5 finally got underway.  Crowding on the platform had reached dangerous proportions.  The 4/5 platform at Atlantic is an “island” platform, with tracks on each side, and it was not impossible to imagine that the sheer press of the crowd could push someone onto the tracks.  Finally, the station PA announced that a broken switch at Franklin Avenue was causing service disruptions.  Franklin is just about the worst possible place to have a major problem as it’s a choke point for the IRT lines in Brooklyn.  With considerable difficulty I forced my way through the sardine-like crowd to the staircase and made my way over to the Pacific Avenue side of the station to get an M train to Fulton.  The M is one of the lesser-known trains in the system.  During rush hours it runs from the southern part of Brooklyn into middle Queens, by way of a loop through lower Manhattan, but for much of the time it has a much more abbreviated route of use to relatively few riders.  But it worked for me today, getting me to Fulton Street in a decent amount of time. I can’t even begin to imagine how long I would have had to wait for a 4 or 5.

The subway was behaving better after work, and after a short wait at Fulton I got a delay-free 3 to Penn.  It was crowded, but tolerably so.  Once at Penn I got the 5:41 to Ronkonkoma, which unlike yesterday was on its usual Track 19.  An incident which occurred after I boarded clearly illustrated the courtesy difference between occasional and regular riders.  A young woman pointed to the vacant seat next to me and asked if it was okay for her to sit there. Say what?  To my even greater surprise she said Thanks after taking the seat.  I knew – knew! – that when the conductor came for tickets she would have a single ticket rather than a monthly.  A regular rider, especially an SCA, would never show the least iota of courtesy or politeness.  When an SCA plops next to me and squishes hard into me, he often gives me a dirty look, as if my physical presence infringes on his sacrosanct rights or something.  Of course, if this young woman continues to ride the LIRR on a regular basis, her courtesy will vanish like snow in a heat wave.  I spent most of the trip playing cell phone Tetris, not with any great success.  The young woman was playing what looked like a version of Pac Man on a handheld video player, that looked like fun.  We got to Ronkonkoma and the shuttle on time.

Gym: I ran three miles on the treadmill, 5.5 mph for the first two miles and 5.4 mph for the third.  Now I have to do only one mile tomorrow to meet my quota.  One thing that was sort of distracting when I was on the treadmill was the sight of a young woman ellipting in the row in front of me.  She had, of all strange things, tattoos of a fleur-de-lis on the back of each arm, just above the elbow.  What, was this some body-art tribute to Gallic culture, or something?

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Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 3:06 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] news, “I spent most of the trip playing cellphone Tetris, not with any great success.” Tales from the daily grind on the L.I.R.R. [Ugh, I Hate the […]

  2. I experienced similar overcrowding at the Wall Street station for both the 2/3 and, after exiting and re-swiping, the 4/5. It took a long time to get to 34th Street

  3. Yes, it was pretty bad, and coming from Wall Street you probably had fewer alternative routes than I did from Brooklyn.

    As of this morning the MTA’s page was still reporting some delays through Franklin Avenue.


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