I was on my way to a job yesterday, and had to make a stop at Home Depot on the way. It seemed pretty simple, go to Home Depot at the Bronx Terminal Market, take the bus back to 161st Street and hop on the #4 train for a quick 12 minute ride to 86th Street, where I could catch the crosstown bus to York Ave where the job was. I figured I’d be there in a half hour after leaving Home Depot at 10:30 am.
This being New York City, though, and more specifically Bill DiBlasio’s New York, I’ve should have already learned not to take anything for granted.
After lugging my 30-pound tool bag up to the 4 Train platform, I checked the timer display, having just heard a truncated message about some problem on the train.
The readout was saying, DUE TO A PASSENGER INJURY… then it was abruptly replaced by all of the Bronx bound arrivals, 4 to Woodlawn, 3 minutes, then 6 minutes, everything except when the next Manhattan bound train would arrive.
Eventually, I’d say some five minutes after the interrupted alert, the announcement came: “Due to a passenger injury at Fordham Road, 4 Train service in both directions is suspended.”
I didn’t even wait for the list of alternatives; I was already headed to the D train downstairs. There was still hope.
I got on a downtown D, changed for a C train at 125th Street and was making great time. I got off the train at 86th street at 11:15 am, and joined the queue. I checked my bus time app and it said the next bus was one stop away. It started to drizzle.
What the app did not tell me was that the bus that was a stop away was disabled; it had broken down somehow, and wasn’t going anywhere.
The crowd waiting for the bus grew. The rain came down heavier and steadier. I got colder and wetter.
Fifteen minutes later people waiting for the bus started hailing cabs. A bus came going the other way.
Even if that were the next bus, it would only be a ten-minute wait for it to turn around and come back.
But ten minutes later there were still no busses.
More people joined the queue, as more and more C and B trains discharged passengers trying to get east.
An hour went by, people grumbled, people got into cabs. No one rioted.
Finally a bus came, I thought it was the disabled bus but it was the one that was headed west some 20mminutes before. He’d had his break and was going back. There were so many people on it the driver did not bother to open the front door, only the exits opened up and people headed for the train got off. There was a mad dash of people stuffing themselves into the open back doors. Who cares that they are not paying the fare? We gotta get east. I didn’t make it; I wasn’t going to stuff myself onto the bus.
I vowed to get on the next bus headed west, and just stay on it till it came around.
That happened ten minutes later, and I ran across the street to jump on it. This bus was packed too. I wondered what happened to throw the M 86 into such a tizzy. But buses have no notification system.
At least I was dry, and a little warmer. I couldn’t believe it is June and I was shivering.
At Broadway the driver said, “Last stop, everybody off!” The dispatcher, who was doing his best to hide from irate passengers (he is usually at Central Park West) leaned into the bus and said something to the driver, but I couldn’t catch what.
“But I want to go back East, can’t I stay on?” I asked.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said.
“I’m sure you don’t,” I said as I got off the bus. I ran across the street and joined the enormous line waiting for the bus I’d just gotten off.
The bus came around without taking a break, but he flashed his NEXT BUS PLEASE sign and passed by us. The crowd gave a collective groan. I guess what the dispatcher had told him was to make Central Park West his first stop. If I had waited I may have gotten a seat at Central Park West.
Then they started coming, all of the west bound busses that had piled up somewhere on the other side of the park.
The first one that came around stopped, and I jammed in with the other couple of hundred people at the stop.
There were a few hundred more at the next stop, and at Columbus Ave. Central Park West was empty, confirming my suspicions of the driver’s instructions. On the way we passed the disabled bus.
I made it to the job site at almost 2 pm, almost two hours after getting off the C train at 86th street.
Since DiBlasio became mayor, our mass transit has gotten worse. More delays, more breakdowns, less communication.
Murders are up, the Mayor says crime is down overall but I don’t believe it. The city seems dirtier and people are angrier.
It is a stark contrast to Warsaw, where I was a couple of weeks ago. That city is pretty clean, and the mass transit system is fast, efficient, and easy to navigate. Even the bus stops have digital timetable displays.
But I don’t think it’s just New York, I think the whole country has sunk into a morass of indifference and an acceptance of poor services. Look at all of the rail accidents we’ve had lately, and the traffic on our highways. We have become a third world country.
I for one knew in my heart that a vote for Bill DiBlasio would be a vote for mediocrity, and I did not vote for him.
Mayor Mike was a prickly, arrogant little bastard, but he made the trains run on time. I think we need another prickly little bastard.