This is the first post in a three part series documenting my Adventures on mostly the free LIRR and Metro-North Railroads after Governor Cuomo declared a transit emergency after Superstorm Sandy
This is the best way to describe today:
Metro-North Fares Not Paid (since the system is free due to the transit emergency): $46.75
Long Island Rail Road Fares Not Paid (since the system is free due to the transit emergency): $12.50
I took full advantage of the second and final day of the Subway (which didn’t matter to me I have an Unlimited that is gathering dust and losing me money in my pocket), and more importantly Commuter Rail being free. I’m not posting any Metro-North photos at this time since those essays are becoming part of my archive for when I finally have a chance to write Metro-North in earnest. Metro-North won out easily as the system to ride since it is operating basically normal service on the New Haven and Harlem Lines and the Hudson Line south of Croton-Harmon. The LIRR just has limited hourly service. There is one place though in Queens I need to go before beginning my
I left the house at 10:20 my goal being the 10:53 Hudson Line train into Grand Central with Marble-Hill as my easiest to reach stop (Morris Heights is the closest but there is no easy transit to get there). I walked down the hill and see transit employees ripping off plywood that are covering some grates on the street with people standing on some of them since its at a bus stop and then enter and take the elevator down at an as always crowded 181 Street Station and the Uptown 1 train luckily just 4 minutes away.
We go by the 207 St Yard, totally empty due to flooding at Dyckman Street. I get to 225 Street at 10:48 with a few minutes to cross the street and walk up to the Metro-North Station where the not that useful information display says Service Change but doesn’t actually say when the next train is supposed to arrive.
My train of M7a’s comes in a minute late at 10:54 and I have a nice ride meandering along the Harlem River on a local. At Morris Heights a Metro-NOrth work train passes the other way with a few cars full of ballast and some holding small containers cars. I assume there headed up the Hudson to provide materials for the washouts currently being fixed on the still closed line north of Croton-Harmon. We go by Yankee Stadium and over the Park Avenue Bridge (a bridge I haven’t crossed in years) and zoom above the middle of Park Avenue. We stop at 125th Street and reach the tunnel portal at 97 Street, passing 59 Street I notice the emergency exit former station there. Then I actually see the conductor for the first time who makes an announcement: “Those who bought tickets, hold on to them. All fares have been waved today by order of Governor Cuomo.” We enter the maze of switches and arrive on Track 30 as I get a few pictures (like my Penn Station approach, although I know the tracks and platforms at Grand Central much less than Penn Station since I always board Metro-North in the Bronx). We arrive on time at 11:17. The departure boards, unlike yesterday are all on. This is the now operating Hudson Line Schedule:
I also see some foreigners, Amtrak Tickets in hand, asking at the information booth about how to get to Penn Station and there handed a sheet of paper (its clearly a common question). My next destination is switching railroad stations (again) to get to Penn Station. New Jersey Transit and Amtrak has begun limited service and the NJ Transit entrance at 7th Avenue and 31 Street seems like the best place to enter. I also want to check on Herald Square again. I get on the 42 Street Shuttle over to Times Square and the plan is to take the N (the most infrequent subway line it seems because of the track constraints down to Herald Square). I just miss the N and walk over to 6th Avenue to see how the 34 Street on the IND is doing turning 3 lines. I get to 42nd Street-(4 Photos) where an F train is in the station and a D soon enters, they both have holding lights. There are delays just waiting to get into the 34th Street terminal.
Eventually the F leaves first (which arrived in 42 Street afterward) and takes me the one stop. I also realize another problem with this terminus, passengers getting on northbound trains have no idea which platform to go to. There no signs and passengers are stuck resulting to running over the overpass to get between the platforms. It seems like F and M trains are generally on the downtown platform and D trains get the Uptown platform (why not put signs up?) When B and D trains were terminating in the station, during the Manhattan Bridge construction one was assigned one platform (I think B the downtown and B the Uptown) for their terminuses. I get off the F train and also get a few more pictures of the still completely dark PATH station.
I walk a block over to 7th Avenue and the New Jersey Transit Entrance at 32 Street. Walking in around 12:04 I first notice a black departures monitor followed by one that lists departures as of 6:00 in the with every train Canceled. They soon announcing boarding for a Northeast Corridor Line train (the only corridor, running about hourly operating today) on track 9 and a large crowd head overs to it. The track is mainly announced verbally by a transit employee. The sign is actually working at the track entrance, were every station NJT will serve today fits on one screen. It does through change to say change at Secaucus for Bergen County/Main Line, PJC to Shuttle, and TRE for SEPTA, SEPTA is the only correct connection.
I then head over to the Amtrak Concourse where the arrivals board is all cancelations, the departures board looks a bit bitter (for half of it, the other half terrible):
I then head to the LIRR concourse where I realize I’ve just missed this hour’s 3 departures (all leaving within 8 minutes of another out to Jamaica), I have five minutes though before a Port Washington Train and decide I’ll ride it out to Flushing and then take the now restored 7 to 74th Street to the M out to Jamaica
I decide to dash via the 8th Avenue Station, the only Midtown Terminus I haven’t been to yet to see how the A’s terminating, entering on the local track, discharging, heading to a central siding track between the express tracks and re-entering service on the opposite local track (what a production). I dash down the 8th Avenue concourse and down to my train 2 minutes before its scheduled to leave, the turnstiles to the express platform are totally closed off.