What an experience. When people told me that NYC was “unlike any other city” I’ve ever been to, I had no idea it applied to the public transportation system as well.
Let’s first discuss the naming conventions used for the underground transportation system…the subway. If I wanted to go to a subway, I would head across the street from my apartment for a sub-par sandwich on dry bread. Though it would probably smell better than NYC’s subway.
Despite the lack of sophistication in the name of their rail system (come on, the “underground”, the “T”, and even the “metro” all sound classier), NYC knows how to do public transportation, even if they can’t keep it clean.
Let’s start with the fact that a visitor can easily buy a fare card that applies to BOTH rail and bus. None of this business like in DC where one has to track down $1.70 in change or go on a scavenger hunt to find the nearest business where SmartTrips are sold (for a mere $5!) so they can ride both the bus and the train. And no stupid pandas (I’m so going to get flour bombed for that last comment. And probably by my sister, E, who works at an wildlife-friendly organization.). It’s
fucking common sense revolutionary!
NYC also boasts a public transportation system in which there are no escalators or elevators. Not a one. Therefore,
metro subway riders aren’t inconvenienced by outages, like when the monster escalators went out at Rosslyn the other day, and shut down the entire station for a few hours. (Can I please point out that Rosslyn is a transfer station and gets a fair amount of human traffic, so shutting it down is more than slightly annoying?) What about the thousands of elderly or disabled citizens of New York, you ask (and which I did)? Are they left to their own devices in typical (or stereotypical?) New Yawker fashion? Surprisingly, no. They get VIP bus service (Unfortunately, bottle service isn’t available. Otherwise, you know I would try to get my hands on some sunglasses and one of those white, red tipped canes.), completely eliminating the need to travel underground and smash themselves next to strange people. Well done, Big Apple.
Not surprisingly, the entertainment on New York public transportation is vastly more, well, entertaining. In two days, I saw cellos, steel drums, and, my personal favorite, a troupe of three preteen boys who barged into our subway car with a boombox and performed what can only be referred to as street acrobatics (I’m totally putting a trademark on that if it doesn’t exist.), using the poles and overhead bars to flip and twist around in beat with the music, and flipping their untied Air Jordans and flat-billed baseball hats in the air without using their hands. I have to say, I was impressed. Lord knows I hardly have the skills to put on my shoes without falling over, let alone doing ANYTHING that requires rhythm (just ask Miss Carol, my dance instructor when I was in middle school). Let me be clear- DC has some gems when it comes to interesting people, and every once in awhile you see a musician or two, but it’s mostly crazy people talking to themselves or ridiculous clothing that aren’t even fit to wear as costumes.
Lastly, the subway platforms in NYC are interesting to look at, with cool mosaics telling riders what station they’re at. Here in DC/NOVA/MD, we have what can only be described as bunkers. Seriously, when I read Catching Fire, I envisioned District 13 as a huge, multi-leveled DC metro station. Gray concrete with cavernous ceilings and only smatterings of colors in the forms of posters of Smithsonian exhibits (or in District 13’s case, mockingjay related propaganda). Depressing.
Essentially, New York knows what’s up when it comes to getting around. But at least in DC I won’t have to wear a SARS mask in the summer to protect myself from the stench…