Leave No Station Unphotographed: The Blog of SubwayNut.com

 

Home From Colorado: Greyhound to Denver to two Local Buses to SkyRide to a JetBlue Red-Eye to the Q10 to the A Train

I’m back in New York!

I had thought about taking the train back cross-county but when I realized Amtrak would be double the price of flying I just couldn’t justify it so only about two weeks ago I decided to buy a plane ticket on JetBlue.

The final day of my Tennessee to Texas trip which ended my week in Colorado really began at noon when a friend who I thought might be driving up to Denver had decided to go up much earlier. At that point as I was wondering around grabbing some breakfast I stopped at the Greyhound Station to buy an overpriced $17.50 ticket from Denver to Colorado Springs scheduled to depart at 3:55. I wondered around some more and went back to the station at 3:30 with no sign of the bus. The schedule was the same one I arrived in Colorado Springs late on last Thursday. The bus finally showed up at about 4:30 (the agent did mention the lateness but made no announcements) and there was a terrible moment when none of the drivers went into the station to grab the passengers checked luggage. I didn’t have any, I had only brought a few things down for this weekends wedding and left the rest of my stuff in Denver with friends. The bus finally left for a smoky trip up I-25 leaving Colorado Springs because of the devastating forest fire on the edge of the city. We made one stop at the Amtrak station (this schedule is a thruway connection to the eastbound Zephyr). I considered getting off and would have if Amtrak was back in the regular Union Station but didn’t. It was then a quick trip to the Greyhound Station where we arrived at 6:00 and I walked the mile and a half to a friends house where my luggage was.

I spent my last few hours hanging out in Colorado with friends before walking to the bus stop around 10:00pm. Google maps told me to take the Route 15 would leave at 10:18 but this would give me just 5 minutes to connect to the last 73 bus up to Stapleton Park and Ride so I got there in time for an earlier bus which was 9 minutes late. I paid my $2.25 and got a transfer. I got to Quebec Street with about 15 minutes before my connection. Another Route 15 passed about two minutes before the 73 arrived for a ten minute trip up to the Stapleton Park and Ride. There I waited twenty-five minutes for the 11:07 SkyRide AS bus. That bus arrived on time at 11:02, completely packed with every seat taken, full of travelers and commuters alike coming in from the airport. An extremely friendly SkyRide driver loaded my bag into the bus bays and told me that buses were no longer stopping at individual airlines but arriving at one stop on the departures roadway of the West Terminal due to the South Terminal Expansion. I paid another $6.75 for the overpriced SkyRide fare for an uneventful ride to the airport where I arrived early at 11:35. (I did once manage to http://subwaynut.com/updates/?p=858 ride the local bus out of DIA Airport to the FREX but that was a huge adventure into itself with extremely limited service hours).

Upon arriving I realized the bus had dropped me off at the opposite end of the West Terminal from JetBlue’s ticket counter and I decided to enjoy a walk outside to reach it. I got to the ticket counter and there was no one in the full service line but lots of people in the bag drop line. I decided to skip dealing with the kiosks and wait for a friendly agent to check me in and I was helped quite quickly. I declined spending $40 to get an Even More Legroom Seat Assignment and was told I would have to have one assigned at the gate. When I booked my flight there were only middle seats left so I decided not to choose one and try my luck at the airport. I got to security and the two open lines were using the millimeter wave technology. These use radio waves that seem totally harmless so I will actually go through them unlike the X-ray radiation based back scanners that I just don’t trust so I didn’t opt-out this time. I got through security around midnight, plenty of time for my 12:50 flight. I decided to take a joyride on the DIA Subway (People Mover really) out to the C Concourse before doubling back to the A Concourse. Getting off at the A-Gates there was a bad moment when one of the car doors opened but the platform edge door didn’t so I had to run to the other door in the car. The platform edge door opened shortly thereafter but was a completely odd experience. I went upstairs and to the ticket counter to see about a seat assignment but no employees were there (I accidentally asked a Delta, I believe, flight attendant who was waiting to try and deadhead on the JetBlue flight). I walked the concourse and it felt less like a ghost town than normal. Spirit has entered the Denver market and they had a red-eye midnight flight to Fort Lauderdale.

At about 12:20 I went back to the gate and a friendly gate agent gave me seat 25D, luckily an aisle seat (windows are always my preference) but in the dreaded very last row of the plane. I had hoped that I might be bumped up to Even More Legroom, because of the regular seats being full. I have had success by not choosing a seat assignment on United Express and gotten bumped up to their Economy+ on regional jets, whose regular economy seats are some of the worst I know about. While waiting to board I thought there was an amusing moment of a Frontier Airlines employee pushing a JetBlue wheelchair for a passenger out to the Jetway. The gate agents definitely just worked for JetBlue. It wasn’t the completely shared Continental/US Airways agents that I use to experience when I flew Continental in Colorado Springs. I finally boarded at 12:40 for a completely full flight but not all JetBlue passengers with some deadheading employees and some other passengers from a United flight to LGA canceled 7 hours ago. The flight was largely uneventful, even being stuck at the back of the plane. JetBlue still distributes eye masks and ear plugs although I find them too uncomfortable to use. Being on the aisle meant I took full advantage of JetBlue’s unlimited snacks enjoying a ginger ale, two bags of chocolate-chip cookies, and a bag of animal crackers, nut mix (peanut free), popcorn chips, and the required bag of Blue potato chips. All of JetBlue’s snacks except for the Miltigrain fiber crisps. I couldn’t seem to get my seat to recline but the legroom wasn’t that terrible and I’ll definitely take a seat on a JetBlue plane over one on a Greyhound bus. A half-hour before landing they came through with bottles of water and cans of orange juice but not coffee. I asked for some coffee and a nice cup of Duckin-Donuts was delivered promptly.

The plane arrived a little early at 6:26 and it took me a good ten minutes to get off from the very back. I saw a nice large Hawaiian Airlines A330 Jet, the only airline other than JetBlue to use terminal 5 at this time. It’s flight started on June 4th, with a code share and frequent flyer partnership, a match that makes perfect sense since JetBlue’s Airbuses do not have the range (although some Boeing 737s can, ask Alaskan Airlines) to ever serve Honolulu and Hawaiian Airlines does no domestic flying. I decided to take a little detour to see how much branding was at its gate and it was quite minimal, just a small banner. The inflight monitors had a ever so slight additional branding for the Honolulu Flight with just a small Hawaiian Airlines logo. I walked out to the baggage claim area and the monitors were saying to different things. First that we were at the same belt as those arriving from Honolulu and then to use the next belt. I ended up going and asking baggage services where to go and was told that luckily we weren’t sharing the same baggage claim as the crowded one from the Honolulu Flight. They eventually announced both my flight and the Hawaii flight’s arrival over the PA. The Hawaiian Flight got E komo mai to New York (Welcome in Hawaiian). I couldn’t tell if JetBlue was handling ground operations or Hawaiian had there own in New York.

At 6:55am my backpack finally appeared and I decided to try the poor man’s way back from JFK Airport for just a single subway ride instead of dealing with AirTrain. As of the beginning of this month the expansion of terminal 4’s construction for Delta has moved the one MTA bus stop to right outside the now lot of rubble that was the old Terminal 6 (JetBlue’s Terminal), and is being rebuilt into a new International Concourse for JetBlue. I walked over there (along a narrow sidewalk beyond a sign that said no pedestrians), told to buy a Ground Transportation security officer and a New York Air porter employee. The elevators that used to deliver you to the old JetBlue terminal is the safer way to get there from the SkyWalk. A Q10 Limited was right there and I hopped on. We left almost immediately and left the airport straight away making a few brief stops for airport employees leaving the airport area and two longer ones beyond the airport, where the bus got a bit crowded for residents of Ozone Park. We also did pass one Q10 Local.

At 7:21 we get to the stop across from the end of the Liberty Avenue elevated and I am walking across the street to the A train, swiping the MetroCard I always keep in my wallet on trips for a free transfer. The one train in the station on track 1 is an R32 (switched with the C for air conditioning reasons as part of the summer swap) and I walk the length of the train to the front car. I contemplate taking the rail fan window (at least to Rockaway Blvd) but realize my backpack will block the driver’s door and know I need to try and snooze. At 7:31 we finally leave Lefferts (as a R46 enters the station) and start passing a number of trains stored overnight on the middle track of the Liberty Avenue elevated. At 104th Street I almost have to hop out for a photo stop because there are two R46 A trains lined up back to back on the middle track. One has its doors wide open on both sides of the train, the others are closed tight. By Rockaway Blvd the train is standing room only and quite crowded by Broadway Junction. I doze on and off and by 34th Street there plenty of seats available. At 8:45 I’m pushing through the crowd, entering the station and am getting on the elevator to head home. Total travel time from retriving my bag less than two hours, nearly the same as when I took JetBlue’s Red Eye previously, almost exactly two years ago and came home the conventional way via AirTrain to Jamaica to the E train to the A train (with an extra ten minutes spent riding the E train out to Jamaica Center to get a decent seat to nap in).

My verdict on doing the Q10 bus is if your flying on JetBlue (or Hawaiian) it can save you $5 and take nearly the same amount of time to get into Manhattan but if your using a different airline and have to take AirTrain to Terminal 5 just to get to the bus it seems like a hassle I might just spend the extra five bucks not to deal with. If you have an early morning arrival, the Q10 is also a great way to guarantee a seat into Manhattan since you get to board the A train at its terminus of Lefferts Blvd.

Comments

  1. A LOT has happened while you were gone. Most of the Brighton Line stations finished rennovation and there’s new artwork up. Also, the Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street complex changed its name to “Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center”.

    Posted by sparky

    Link | June 28th, 2012 at 13:35