Four Counties, Two States, Some Rivers.

It’s what I do everyday, the travel better known as my “daily commute”. I hop on an MTA subway, walk a few blocks to a PATH train, and walk a few blocks again. Later, I will repeat the process in the opposite direction.

I’m not complaining about the distance – I chose where I need to go, and I’m happy to do it. In fact, it’s a commute I did before…for years. The difference now compared to “back in the day” was that for a while a ferry ride was included, when the PATH tubes between Exchange Place and the World Trade Center were “under construction”.

So, my question now is why are the governmental entities making it HARDER for all of us to use public transportation? The MTA is raising fares, yet putting nothing back into the infrastructure. Outside of tourist locations and their home at Jay Street in Brooklyn, it’s hard to find any evidence of MTA station maintenance of any kind. The answer to broken stairs at my home station was to barricade the entrance shut for months. Oh yeah, I think one day they added a coat or two of paint to the now barricaded area. When the steps where finally reopened last week, the only noticeable difference was a quick patch, which appeared to be the first efforts on the stairway in years. More stairs will break – perhaps the staircase itself will fall down – before the next visit by MTA maintenance people.

Meanwhile, underground is another story. The efforts to put a wheelchair ramp between the A and E platforms at World Trade Center/Chambers St. were undertaken by a not-so-small army of workers who have been lurking behind the plywood for months (about as long as my home staircase has been broken). Track work seems to be underway at emergency levels – based on all of the MTA lines that have now been re-routed or scuttled during the overnight hours. All of that work is being done simultaneously, so if you need a subway in downtown Manhattan after 12:01AM – take a cab or the PATH. Don’t bother reading the impromtu signs, they’re usually incorrect. After you’ve paid your fare and passed through the turnstiles, simply ask one of the hoardes of workers hanging out in the station.  They’re the ones wearing yellow vests and carrying heavy tools, or walking on the tracks aimlessly. They will happily tell you that there are no trains running the way you need them to, if you ask them. Go on, ask – they need something to do.

Crossing the Hudson has gotten harder as well. The importance that Mayor Bloomberg and his LMDC cronies have made of finishing  the Terrorist Victory Historical Site means that PATH service will cease on nights and weekends at the World Trade Center station, the main time I travel. So I am looking forward to navigating the aforementioned MTA construction to another PATH station in order to earn a bonus “layover” in Hoboken. Additional reading time awaits me as I wait for my “train” to arrive and take me towards Newark. This should effectively double the final leg of my trip, pushing total travel time further past the two-hour mark.

The solution? It might be time to buy a car. Or rent a room in New Jersey. At least I will be stimulating the economy. With money I don’t have to spend.

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