The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Q's Quityerbitchin' Post

So you think you got it rough on your morning commute, and that all those newcomers are gonna destroy your quality of life? Nah. You got it EASY partner. Check this out:

Look, I ride my bike whenever I can, and it ain't always to save the fare. But I ride the trains too, and at certain key moments during the rush it's pretty awful. Though often if I wait for the next one it's fine. The annoyance - having to let a train go by when I'm late - is usually worse than the actual affect on my trip. However, were I one of those poor sods on the much-maligned L, I might not be so sanguine. The fact is, I ride the Q at all different times, and my experience is much like the numbers suggest. The Q is not actually that crowded, either historically or currently. When automated controls eventually come on line, we can expect a smarter, swifter commute, and more trains per hour. Oddly enough, we're not even at capacity now. I also find the claims people make of "having to let three or four trains go by" to not fit my experience at all. Once in a great while, when there's some problem on the line, maybe. But it's certainly a very rare occurrence, unless you suffer from a condition whereby the mere touching of another human being makes you break out in a rash, which in turn, might make others less inclined to want to touch YOU.

Did you know that system-wide we only recently came BACK to the level of ridership in 1950? One can only hope the 2nd Ave line will help things a bit, maybe bring us back to the level of 1960.

Oh, and if you REALLY want to get in a huff about this stuff, go over to our pro-development folks at NY YIMBY and read their piece called "Quit Whining, Brooklyn," for more stats on the sitch.

Lastly, you can't help but wonder if at least part of the crowding problem has to do with our, how do I put this delicately, weight problem? If New Yorkers are actually 50% bigger/heavier than the LAST time we reached this number of riders, maybe that's part of the problem.

Stand clear the closing doors! Or we'll take a plunger to you, laddie!


babs said...

Seriously, try taking the 2/5 from Sterling St. to see what I mean - already it's got to be better at Winthrop, where you'd get on, so you're not getting the full effect. And peoples' weight definitely has something to do with it (especially where sitting down is concerned - those benches are supposed to fit four and three, and I usually see them full at three and two), as do the backpack-toting idiots who don't take them off.

Anonymous said...

the crowdedness is not a problem--at least on lines that aren't the 6 train. no, the real shittiness about the subway system today is just how it seems to break down a lot more often than it used to. it's a hard thing to prove but 10 years ago i feel like delays and track fires were a little less common...some weeks there'll be a track fire at dekalb several days in a row??

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I think "track fire" is often a euphemism for something else, something unspeakable. But Dekalb is definitely a big, big problem. All the trains that use the Manhattan Bridge bottleneck there. That's why I'm gonna say it. There needs to be a bridge just for trains. It would allow many more trains on all the bridge lines, N, Q, B, D and a line yet to be designed. By me.

babs said...

In my experience "police action" or "police investigation" is the euphemism for something really bad. And at least on the 6 train people are semi-polite about the crowded conditions; on the 2/5 I've seen people push others OFF the train while they tried to get on; near-fights break out on a daily basis.

And 10 years ago ridership was much lower, so of course delays and track fires were fewer.

Am I the only person who saw the news story that the population in NYC is just short of what it had been projected (in 2013) to be in 2020? Even our friend at NY YIMBY covered it (with the solution being, of course, build, baby, build).

babs said...

Oh, and, let's not forget "sick passenger" - often that's not an illness from which one recovers.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Babs: I'm curious what you think would happen to rent prices if they DIDN'T build new units, of whatever type.

We are delayed because of train traffic ahead of us.

When they automate the trains, that should be a thing of the past. Though people will have to learn to get on or off and not hold the doors. I suggest a flogging for those who do that. More Singapore, less Portland. We've got a REAL city to run here.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I will keep bitching about our subway system. My daily commute is, almost without fail, the most miserable part of the day.
I've had the pleasure of riding the Tokyo subway; comparing it to ours is like comparing a Tesla to a garbage can.

babs said...

I'm not suggesting that they not build new housing; I'm just talking about increased landmarks protection for some areas/units, and I'm even OK with increasing zoning in other areas to allow for this and to require more affordable units.

I just think the City needs to keep up on the infrastructure side. School overcrowding, sewage backups and flooding, and train delays (Why do you think those trains ahead are delayed? Automation has nothing to do with it. It's because there aren't enough trains, resulting in people pushing and shoving to get on an off at every stop.) are all a part of that.

You dang well when you wait for 20 minutes for a train that there's no trains immediately ahead of you (unless they're delayed by people pushing their way on). More trains = fewer delays.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

need more info anon.
what time do you arrive at the station. which station. is it unbearable the whole time or just a portion. what makes it unbearable? do you have to stay on for a long time, like to the upper east side?

The tesla/garbage-can thing doesn't compute. Try a different analogy, at least between two things that move, no matter how poorly or squished.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

check out that link, babs. some lines can handle more trains as is. some can't. most can though, and automation works in other cities to relieve congestion.

we made the move to metrocards. we can handle an upgrade to automation.

Anonymous said...

I chose garbage cans specifically because they DONT move ( and have many other attributes typical to our trains, stations and tracks )!!! Anyway, analogies aside, Tokyo subway is far better.

I do ride more on nights and weekends-- when MTA dysfunction is highest.

Almost all stations blow. Ours certainly included. I challenge anyone to find a station that doesn't have some strange liquid running down a wall. Or one where the tracks/platforms are garbage free...

And, I'd rather be pushed into a train by a well meaning Tokyo subway attendant than have to put up with surly, lackadaisical, and uncaring MTA employees.

babs said...

Automation won't bring good manners to the passengers, unfortunately, and I'm sure the Transit Workers Union would have a thing or two to say about it as well. Another middle-class career eliminated.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Wow Anon! You have some very strong feelings about it. It must be a symptom of how long I've been here that the garbage and goo and rats hardly bother me anymore - almost quaint. I just want to get where I'm going, and 95% of the time I have no problem at all.

I like our subway. A lot. There I said it.

babs said...

I would like it if the MTA hired pushers to get people on to the train. We used to have them (before Japan):

Anonymous said...

It's nice that you are willing to put up with it, Q, but
our city deserves better.

Unknown said...

As long as Albany sees MTA borrowing and spending as an endless piggyback for kickbacks to their "friends" I don't see the problem really getting addressed.

There are solutions. Its actually pretty cheap to get a significant boost in capacity with modern signalling. Up to 30%. You can get another 10% to 15% on top of that with open gangway trainsets like the NYCT ran back when the city owned the subways. If done as part of normal replacement, this doesn't cost any extra, but it would take time.

Then of course you can also expand and enhance the system. But that is just so very expensive with Albany running the show.

mosdef88 said...

Okay the YIMBY is crap I read that sometime ago. As Anon@5:58PM said I may not have hard proof but I have lived here my whole life, 27 years worth and the subway is as bad as I have experienced it.

Crowdedness may not be the main issue but the train delays sure are. And guess what when you have train delays you get overcrowded trains, when you get overcrowded trains it takes longer for people to get out and get in the station and then it just exacerbates the problem.

So no I will not quit pissing and moaning about MTA because it is getting bad and fares just keep going up with a decline in service. MTA is like Optimum an unfortunate necessary evil and you can't do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

Lived in London and NYC all my life and have noticed this:

London tube: trains come every 2 - 3 minutes all day and travel with speed and back to back, hardly no train traffic and this has been the case for at least 20 years

NYC subway: constant train traffic, crawling slow speeds a lot of the time, trains come every 10 minutes.

NYC subway not that good compared to most major city subways around the world.

Bob Marvin said...

OTOH the London tube stops running late at night and the night buses that replace it are a PITA

Anonymous said...

Bob Marvin - Those night buses are more or at least just as reliable than the NYC subway service at night which is barely a service.
Sometimes I think it would be better to shut it down at night so maintenance/track work can be done more efficiently so we can get a decent modern service in the daytime.
As it is the NYC subway is so overwhelmingly ancient and decrepit I sometimes think it will just implode before it improves.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

whatchu talkin' bout 1:14? They DO shut it down at night...all the time. Just not the whole system.

Plus, as soon as all the lines get the LED's telling you when the train will arrive, we'll be much less stressed. The trains, believe it or not, have a very high on-time rate, all things considered. Check the schedules. Even the Q and B are pretty close to schedule most mornings.

I'm really not sure what's being expressed here. More frequent trains? Signs saying when the train will be there? Signs saying when things are messed up? Because the tracks and trains do just fine, except where they don't, and they're constantly fixing and improving them all the time. There are some basic poorly designed turns and twists, but so what, the train slows down to take them.

For $2.75 you can get from Coney Island to the Bronx Zoo. Granted, it could and SHOULD be heavily subsidized. So who's going to do that? I'll pay a bit more taxes. Drivers should pay more. Will you?

What you seem to be calling ancient and decrepit is the poor cleanliness and peeling paint and crumbling walls etc. And that is purely cosmetic. And btw, trains in other cities DO experience delays and breakdowns and suicides and even, gasp, crime.

So again, I ask. What exactly could be improved? For me, it's about the crush of trains at the Manhattan bridge. Otherwise, I find the subways to be nothing short of miracles, and they tend to get me where I'm going on time 95% of the time. That is, if I leave my house at the right time, instead of ASSUMING the train will be right there.

Y'all are grumps!

babs said...

Those on-time statistics are BS. Do you know how they stay "on-time" on the 2/5? When a train is running late, they simply announce at Franklin Avenue that it will stop at President St. and then skip all the way to Church Ave. Ta-da! Back on schedule, and the rider is left to walk from President (if home is in north PLG) or Church (if in the south). Wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Clarkson maybe it's a bit of ignorance is bliss with you, Have you have spent a decent amount of time or at least visited London, Berlin or Tokyo subway systems?.
I think if you did you would understand that nearly every aspect of NYC subway is ancient in comparison: comms, signaling, public announcements, information, safety i could go on and on really.

why would you think LEDs would be arriving anytime soon? I remember way back in 1998 seeing a big wig from the MTA on the news saying these displays would be in most stations by 2000! erm it's 2015 where are they ? the London tube has had this basic service in all their stations for about 30 years now !

What needs to be improved? nearly everything and the MTA all but admitted that in recent Times articles, but I would take modern Signaling and some type of functioning information system for a start. The trash, rats, grimy stations don't bother me but the lack of trains, and slow stuttering service does.
What have the MTA or/and Albany been doing for the last 30 odd years? why did they not modernize the signaling which would enable trains to travel back to back? again London does not have a train traffic problem even at busy cross sections.

Also without 32 billion from Albany the NYC subway service will get worst and the fares will go up and this is straight from the horses mouth: The MTA
we live in the greatest city in the world but our subway system is anything but.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Apparently you don't ride the IRT? Or the L? Their LEDs tell you when the trains are coming. And they're accurate. Should try them sometime. Makes a world of difference.

Believe it or not, NYC is much cheaper than the Tube, and none of this silly zone stuff.

Except at the worst parts of the rush, I find rides to be relatively predictable. I've timed it over hundreds of rides and most days it's within a few minutes of the mean. No I have not spent a great deal of time on the Tokyo, Shanghai, Budapest or Tangiers trains Mr. Worldly Wise. But I'm generally amazed at what the NYC subways can accomplish given the age, lack of investment and gazillions of surly, grumpy and intensely diverse passengers.

Granted, it's miserably managed and could be much better overall, in many ways that I've already mentioned. Actually, when they fixed the Public Address system it became much easier to hear announcements. That's not the problem -- it's the lack of information. A top-down directive could fix that in a hurry. It's bewilderingly not a priority.

I'm still bullish on NYCTA. Haven't squeezed the love for the subway out of me yet, nitpickers! Watch me smile all the way to work.

(I would argue that it's ones low opinion of one's job that has more to do with the lousiness of the commute - much more than the ride itself.)

Anonymous said...

Our trains are terrible. Over half of the lines don't have countdown clocks.

The 5 doesn't run on nights or weekends in Brooklyn.

Basic fixes that other world cities received decades ago might arrive here in our lifetimes.

"Pretty close to the schedule" is not on time. Trains should run on time. Have you never been on train that sits for 5 - 10 minutes because of some unspecified condition up ahead? This is a common occurrence. If you relied on these trains for a daily commute and had to risk losing your job or always leaving 20 minutes early (and still praying that this is enough leeway) you would not be so kind.

The MTA is terribly run. Our trains are in disrepair and are grossly over capacity.

We can't change it but we don't have to pretend that this is acceptable or decent.