Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And of Course . . . The Trains


http://nadiaknows.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/20885-107train-on-new-york-subway-new-york-city-new-york-posters.jpg


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1c/241steet_IRT_2_train_station_entry.JPG

How could I blog about NYC without mentioning the trains? Few cities in America have well developed passenger rail systems and NYC is one of them. This city has the highest transit commuting rate I have ever seen in the Census Bureau's statistics (55%).

Let's put out a few observations for LA's transit debates. I haven't ridden every train in the city, but I've ridden at least ten and wandered through every borough and I've seen zero at-grade crossings. The "bad" trains are the ones that run above ground, since they create massive noise problems for the people who live next to them (sound walls are rare), but even these are grade separated.

Are these trains lighting fast? No. Not compared to a car zooming down an empty highway. I estimate that a trip on the 3 subway train from 148th to 42nd street in Manhattan runs at about 20 MPH (much slower than LA's Red Line which runs at an average speed of 30MPH). And it's running express part of the way. Hopefully others are a bit faster. However, that's 20 MPH through territory packed with destinations, not random sprawl punctuated by a strip mall every mile or so (I'm not implying that about the Red Line by the way), so it's not so bad.

These lines are old. Most of them were built at the beginning of the 20th century, a time when the needs of people with disabilities were not much of a concern. A review of the subway map shows that few of the stations are accessible to people who have trouble with stairs.

This city has local and express trains similar to LA's regular and rapid buses. If a local train stops every 10 blocks or so an express will stop every 20 blocks or so.

The fares were just raised to $2.25. This covers all your train transfers. You don't pay again until you leave and re-enter. You get a discount buying in bulk and you can save a lot buying a pass.

So far I haven't felt the need to ride a single bus, although I'm sure they're useful in some situations.

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