Superstorm Sandy Transit Adventures

South Ferry Loop Station Reopened and a Half-Hour Delay and Boarding Announcement Adventure in Penn Station as I continue my Points Run to New Rochelle

My stop on my way downtown today is to visit South Ferry on my way to my internship in Brooklyn. I don’t feel like dealing with the 1 train and the elevators at its 181 Street stop so I get on the A train down to 59th Street. I just make a connection to the 1 train. At Times Square there are no Express trains in sight, so I stay on the 1 train, at 18 Street a 2 train passes. There are signs in car for the South Ferry Service restoration (don’t say first five cars but have a note the station is not accessible), and the signs in the advertising panels are back at the ends of each car with the you must be in the first five cars service note. One thing I also notice is that the arrow behind the cars is now blue (it used to be grey in the previous signs, the last time the loop was opened).


We stop just north of Chambers Street and get the announcement “Service to South Ferry has been restored but you must be in the first five cars to get off at South Ferry, at Chambers Street please walk along the platform to be in the first five cars”. A 3 train passes us on the express track. We get to Chambers Street and I expect to be held in the station but no, we just continue south, stopping at Rector (that I need to revisit) and getting the sequel of the wheels of the curve of the South Ferry Loop and arriving. I’ve purposely boarded the fifth car. There is a delay, the gap fillers go in place and I feel like the loop station hasn’t changed except for a good scrubbing and a new coat of paint. I get off and get some photos but can’t leave fare control since I presently lack an Unlimited ride MetroCard, it expired Tuesday and I am going away this weekend. I do walk up stairs and get a picture of the former entrance and the turnstiles that are exposed to the open air. The mural is still on the wall of the small landing before the entrance. I then walk down to the front of the platform (a train has arrived and left during my visit) and get to the front of the platform where a short passageway leads down a few steps to the mezzanine of the original station and I walk by the white construction walls that close off the storm damaged new station and down the corridor to transfer to the R train. The escalators up to the main entrance are back in service (before R train riders had to only use the stairs). I take that to Court Street and my internship.

I do what I need to do and am running early and swipe onto the 2 train at Clark Street at 2:19 (you’ll read why this matters later), getting off at Penn Station and decide to relax in the ClubAcela at 2:40, just as they announce the gates and tracks over a whopping 20 minutes before (quite a lot time by New York standards) for first the 3:03 Acela train to Boston, followed by the 3:00 Acela to Washington. The snack basket is empty but soon is refilled with potato chips so I enjoy those and some Sierra Mist (the ginger ale, what I really want is broken).

  • 3:19 Stand by in the club first for 176, soon 476, the separately listed shuttle connection go to Stand By
  • 3:20 train 49 come forward for the usher Nigel to escort you over to the gate. That’s how sleepers board in New York. I check my phone and see it arrived at 3;19
  • 3:23 I ask the desk the track, 10 east, and the women announces 10 East with the train still listed as on standby, escalator going up. I stand in front of the escalator and someone says this is a line. How do they know the track? I assume its on the arrivals board. People keep coming up the escalator.
  • 3:25 Lake shore announced. My train still on stand by. There is even a confused red cap waiting to board a passenger.
  • 3:30 A gate usher shows up. The departure board goes to boarding, and the train is annouced, the escalator is still going up. The escalator even annouces go around to people at the escalator.
  • 3:32 red cap going down. Agent on her phone.
  • 3:33 “Mechanical forces are checking the train, boarding will be slightly delayed.” Escalator back to up. Sign switches back to stand by. I decide to leave the blob. There is an NJT train at 9 East. I debate sneaking down or going a back in the club. The board switches to Delayed and the track is gone.
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  • 3:44 special annoucement that the train is being delayed because the engine is being being changed. The track is lost. Goes to delayed I go back into the Club and a red cap says track 10, track 10.
  • 3:47 back to ‘Stand By.’ I leave the club more Sierra Mist. There is a giant blob at 10 West. I’m mad at myself for not going down when the board said boarding via the NJT staircase or the exit concourse.
  • 3:54 please keep standing by for 176/476. I’m stand by gate 10 West. I appreciate the janitors and all the directions they give.
  • 3:57 I notice an employee go to the west gate where I’m standing at track ten. Boarding is then announced and I go down the escalator first, flashing my ticket. All seat checks are gone but the car is already quite crowded.

On board we get announcements that this is 176 (no reference to 476) to Boston and not the train to Washington. I get a seat mate. They announce to take all personal items off the seat next to you. The conductor apologizes everyone for the delay and says as soon as they board the remaining passengers the train will get on its way. The women sitting next to me apologizes for her laptop cord she is needs to put around my seat. I plug it in for her and say I understand. The final word is “Why can’t outlets be in the floor.” We leave at 4:06. I wonder why they didn’t just board all of us during the engine change, in the dark for a closer to on time departure.

Now the game of will my ticket be checked or will I need to find the conductor. The conductor announces we have an eight car train: first car business class, second car the quiet car. I like his enthusiasm. Then all tickets please as we go through the south tubes of the East River tunnels.

  • 4:10 – In Queens passing an LIRR train to Babylon. Go through Sunnyside by the east side access construction. My seat mate gets on her phone, clearly making a business call but is speaking really softly (I can hear the conversation since I’m sitting next to her but I doubt the people across the asile can). We leave the LIRR. I see a man in Amtrak with a trash bag walking the train. I think he’s is one of the en route cleaners on Regionals Amtrak has that clean through trains between New York and Stamford. Going on the viaduct over Astoria I notice my train has two AEM7 locomotives. I guess they only added an engine, didn’t take the old one off (or attached two).
  • 4:16 – over the Ditmars Blvd subway station and over the Hell Gate Bridge. The nice view of the Triborough Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.
  • 4:18 – pass the Bronx toll plaza over the Bronx span of the Hell Gate, the conductor isn’t in my car yet. I realize I’m probably going to need to find him.
  • 4:21 – Whitlock avenue and under the six train. The only employee I’ve seen is the cleaner who has walked by about three times, trash bag in hand.
  • 4:25 – an Acela passes and we go under the Hutchinson River Park and into Pelham Bay Park.
  • 4:28 – New Rochelle is annouced. I feel badly interrupting my seat mates phone call (I applaud her for her discreetness) as the conductor is at the end of my car. I walk up to him. He’s extremely friendly in person (like the sounds of his annoucements) and thanks me for coming up to him. Claiming Amtrak will now charge you double if your ticket doesn’t get collected. He gets about halftime car (not up to my seat before getting up for the station stop.

We arrive in New Rochelle at 4:30 on track 5. Our two locomotives are beyond the end of the platform for a photo and there is an equipment box in the way. I try the overpass that the platform extends under but no go there either.
I want to board a bus ASAP, because I’m curious if I will get my transfer. One original plan is to take the bus to Fordham on my transfer and walk home from there (2 to 3 miles). The other plan (had the train been on time) to take Metro-North to Fordham ($3.00) and use my transfer to a bus home.

At 4:37 Bus Route 45, that goes to Pelham Bay Park pulls into the Transit Center Bus Loop that I’ve jogged into. The fare box says Transfer. Two hours and nineteen minutes after I first swiped. Its nice to know a MetroCard transfer is still 2 hours and 18 minutes. A bus ride through Pelham Bay Park feels fitting after a ride through it on the train.
I forgot just how long the ride is on local streets through new Rochelle before we get to the fast run in Pehlam Bay Park, at 5:00 were finally zooming through Pelham Bay Park.

  • 5:09 – arrive at the Pelham Bay Park Subway Station. I go up the escalotor and nearly do a double take when the staircase feels like its leading up to one of the unused, side exit platform before remembering here you walk around the bumper blocks to get to the island platform. There no trains in the station and I take some photos and walk up to the front car which I have alone until someone boards reeking of cigarettes throwing one off the train making the car stink of them. We get a “PA check” (first Ive been on a train with one announced that way) At Behure I switch cars.
  • 5:32 – I decide to make a photo stop at Elder and assume that an ex-local 6 train (originating at Parkchester) will soon arrive behind mine. The countdown clock says 16 minutes then 13 minutes.
  • 5:38 – says six minutes and 9 minutes before switching to Delay
  • 5:43 – finally on the train on the next train, every seat taken.
  • 5:46 – At Hunts Point the countdown clocks say I three minutes and I decide to wait for the next train. I also go up to the extremely narrow mezzanine (that was narrow to begin with) from restricted areas on the platforms in order to install ADA elevators.
  • 6:02 – arrive 125th st to a giant protest on the street for better pay for Fast Food Woerks. I walk over to 3rd Avenue for the M98, the easiest way home from the 6 train in the Bronx.
  • 6:21 – one packed m98 shows up a wheelchair gets off. I see the next bus a nice old RTS and get on. Bus bunching feels strange on the rush hour only M98.

In a traffic jam on the FDR at 155 Street, but I’m still getting off the bus at 6:41, right in front of my house (the buses from the Bronx require walking up the hill).

Also to note: I just googled New South Ferry Station Opens and the second hit is the MTA Capital Construction Page from building the new station when it opened in 2009!