A Train Turns 75!

Yesterday, September 10th marked the 75th anniversary of the A train. The A train was the first line NYC owned & operated. The MTA decided to bring out a piece of history in regards to the big birthday. Transit officials put together a full train of pre-World War II cars to run in service. Here is an article talking about the big celebration courtesy of the NY Times:

It was, without a doubt, the quirkiest way to get to Harlem yesterday.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the A train, transit officials had a train of pre-World War II subway cars strung together.

In celebration of the 75th birthday of the A train, the first subway line both owned and operated by the city and the only one with an instantly recognizable jazz standard named after it, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority strung together a train of pre-World War II subway cars and ran it from one end of Manhattan to the other and back.

The fun was watching ordinary straphangers who knew nothing about the vintage train as they boarded along the way.

The cars were boxy and painted a drab dark green. Inside, there were vintage ads for Chesterfield cigarettes and Uneeda Biscuits, bare incandescent bulbs, bouncy rattan seats and spinning ceiling fans.

“I was really confused,” said Emily DiAngelo, 22, who boarded in Washington Heights, her face twisted in bewilderment.

“I thought I was on the wrong platform,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Ms. DiAngelo, an oboist who studies at the Manhattan School of Music, said the sense of stepping into a time warp was heightened because, just as the train pulled into the station, she had been listening to an Ella Fitzgerald recording of “Take the A Train” on her iPod.

“It was kind of pretty perfect, actually,” she said.

The first A trains carried passengers on Sept. 10, 1932, just after midnight. Yesterday’s commemorative train was made up of six cars, including Car 100, the first in a line of cars known as the R1, which were built for the new subway line.

The run started shortly after 11 a.m. and traveled from 207th Street to Canal Street. It continued for one more stop, to the World Trade Center station on the E line, before heading back uptown. Along the way were many juxtapositions of the old and new.

William Mulligan, 40, boarded the train at 207th Street with a two-wheeled Segway Personal Transporter, which, he said, he used above ground.

Mr. Mulligan, director of performing arts at Manhattan College in the Bronx, said he was not aware of any songs written about the Segway. As he spoke, he maneuvered the machine out of the way of other passengers.

“It’s a little goofy,” he admitted. “I try not to draw too much attention to myself.”

Further downtown, Sabur Khalinah, 27, the manager of a fast food restaurant, laughed as he took pictures of the old train on his cellphone. Asked what he was going to do with the pictures, he said: “Show them to people, because nobody’s ever going to believe this. Hey, I was on a train with ceiling fans. I didn’t even know the subway system was around 75 years ago.”

“I think it’s cute,” said Sandy Alexis, 28, a business consultant, after settling into one of Car 100’s cushioned seats.

It was a muggy day and she noticed the lack of air conditioning.

“If it was crowded like the regular train it would be really hot in here right now,” said Ms. Alexis, who wore a sleeveless dress and big round sunglasses. “I don’t know how they used to do it, with the suits and hats.”

In another car, a musician played “Take the A Train” on a saxophone. The song, written by Billy Strayhorn and popularized by Duke Ellington, calls the A train the quickest way to get to Harlem.

Charles Adams Jr., the general superintendent of the maintenance shops for the A and C lines, said it was running at its top speed of about 50 miles an hour, the same maximum speed achieved by today’s more streamlined stainless steel trains.

The difference he said, is that the new trains accelerate at a faster rate, about 2.5 miles per hour per second, compared with 1.9 miles per hour per second for the older trains.

I wanted to checkout this celebration yesterday. Unfortunately I was so exhausted, I did not have the energy to attend. While I couldn’t guarantee I would have rode the train (95% sure I would have), I definitely would have photographed it. I’m sure many of the great transit photographers in the tri-state area will have shots to share in the coming days.

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Platform Doors, Are You Kidding Me?

September 08, 2007

NY1 has learned exclusively the MTA plans to install subway platform doors on the new number 7 subway line extension.

The doors are designed to relieve the crunch of passengers boarding and exiting subways during rush hour.

The floor-to-ceiling mechanical sliding doors will be at the edge of the platform, similar to those seen on the JFK AirTrain.

According to MTA officials, the doors cost about $2 million per platform. The expense is expected to be made up in energy savings from new cooling systems.

This will be the first time platform doors have ever been tried on the subway.

Are you kidding me? What a complete waste of money this is by the MTA, not that this should come as any surprise to straphangers. Many platforms have dangerous levels of crowding during rush hour & somehow installing doors taking up some of what little room is there is a good idea? Sorry but I can’t support such a waste of money.

Such an expensive idea would be one thing if our system was in great financial shape & could afford such luxuries. However our system is in tough times financially & falling apart in many places. Somehow the MTA can afford a proposal that will cost about $2,000,000 a station but can’t keep up proper conditioning of stations! Let me show just a few samples of what I mean:

2nd Ave. 02-06-06
Damaged trackbed at the 2nd Ave. station

Fordham Rd 05-29-06
Possible hazardous conditions at the Fordham Rd. station on the B & D lines

Union St. 01-04-06
Wall peeling apart at the Union St. station in Brooklyn

W. 4th St. 02-25-06
Rusted tiles at the W. 4th St. station in Manhattan

All resized photos courtesy of Eye On Transit

Now mind you these photos are just the tip of the iceberg. I only selected 4 quick shots from my DSLR collection taken within the last year or so. If I were to go back to my days with a regular point & shoot digital camera, it would be even worse! The sad part is many of these stations still look like they did when I took the photos.

So straphangers are supposed to be thrilled about platform doors yet forget that many of the 468 stations in our system are in horrible shape? Well you can be damn sure that I am one straphanger who will not get the wool pulled over my eyes!

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Shootout In The Bronx

What should have been a simple detainment turned into a wild shootout in the Bronx on September 7th. On this day a suspect was killed & an officer wounded when the suspect was to be detained for riding in between subway cars. Here is a story about the incident courtesy of WABC 7:

(Bronx – WABC, September 8, 2007) – It should have been an everyday arrest: The suspects were just being detained for riding between subway cars, police said. But the encounter turned into a harrowing shootout on a subway platform, leaving a suspect dead and an officer hospitalized with three gunshot wounds.

Officer Annmarie Marchiondo was in stable condition early Saturday with a broken ankle, broken foot and a flesh wound near her hip, authorities said. Police said the slain suspect – a parolee who had served time for manslaughter – grabbed her around the neck during the confrontation Friday evening and sprayed the Bronx subway station with five shots before other officers fired back and stopped him.

“Luckily, (Marchiondo’s injury) wasn’t worse,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters after visiting the injured officer at the hospital Friday night.

Marchiondo and two other plainclothes officers spotted Juan Calves, 51, and another man riding between subway cars on a southbound 4 train going from the Bronx to Manhattan, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Moving between cars is a violation of subway rules.

After the officers took the suspects off the train at the 176th Street station, Calves grabbed Marchiondo in a head lock, pulled out a stolen, 9-millimeter gun and fired five shots on the platform, police said.

While Marchiondo struggled to get free, the two other officers fired back with a combined 13 shots, killing Calves, police said.

Police said it wasn’t clear early Saturday who had shot Marchiondo, a 17-year NYPD veteran. She was hit in the foot, ankle and left side, just under her bullet resistant vest, police said.

Police officers raced to aid Marchiondo, carrying her down a flight of stairs from the elevated subway platform, witness Jason Ramos told reporters.

“They were determined to help this lady,” he said.

Police said the platform was not crowded at the time of the shooting, about 5:20 p.m. Still, witnesses described a chaotic scene as subway riders dashed out of the station and passers-by on the street below scrambled for cover.

“Everything was topsy-turvy,” token booth clerk Arthur Menzies told the Daily News.

Calves was freed on parole from prison two years ago after serving time for manslaughter, robbery, and attempting to promote prison contraband. The manslaughter conviction involved the killing of a fellow prison inmate at Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York, police said.

The second man detained, whose name wasn’t immediately released, was being questioned.

The officers had been patrolling the subways to enforce the regulation that bars passengers from jumping subway cars.

“Officer Marchiondo and police officers like her are the reason why New York City subways are the safest in memory,” Kelly said Friday.

This story sounds like it is out of a script!

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South Ferry Progress

This past Friday, the MTA led a tour of what will become the new South Ferry Terminal. According to the MTA, they are in the home stretch in terms of completing the construction. NY1’s Bobby Cuza had a nice piece about it. So here is that article courtesy of NY1:

Next year, the MTA will open a brand-new subway station for the first time in almost 20 years. NY1’s Bobby Cuza filed the following report on the South Ferry terminal station.

It may not get as much publicity as the Second Avenue subway, but near the tip of Lower Manhattan another ambitious and expensive construction project is humming along. When complete, it will provide riders on the Number 1 train a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility.

“Unlike many of our stations that were built a hundred years ago, this will meet all of the 21st-century standards,” said MTA Capital Construction Company President Mysore Nagaraja.

Friday, MTA officials led a tour of what will become the new South Ferry Terminal, now moving into the home stretch of construction. When it’s finished, it will serve as a replacement for the existing South Ferry station – an antiquated structure with just one entrance, a tight curve that requires the use of mechanical gap-fillers, and a short platform that requires riders to move up to the first five cars in order to exit, slowing down trains all the way up the line.

“This has a domino effect on all of the 1, 2 and 3 trains that gets delayed because of this,” said Nagaraja. “So now having a two-track, full-length platform over here, we are going to eliminate that delay.”

The MTA hopes to open the new station about this time next year. At that point, these tracks will be used only for storage and to turn around trains. The platform itself will be closed off to passengers, along with the entrance upstairs inside the ferry terminal.

The new terminal will not only save riders an estimated two to five minutes on their trips, it will also be fully accessible, provide a connection to the R/W station at Whitehall Street, and pump cool air onto the platforms in the summer.

“It’s not 100 percent air-conditioned, but the temperature in the station will be at least about 10 to 15 degrees below the outside temperature,” said Najaraja.

The price tag for the project isn’t cheap – almost a half a billion dollars. But that’s being paid for out of federal September 11th rebuilding funds, which for straphangers is about as close as it gets to a free ride.

I can’t wait to see the new South Ferry terminal as this project was sorely needed. I’m sure once it is done, straphangers will be very thankful. Hopefully the pigs who ride the subway do not ruin it!

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Arrests Made In Astoria Subway Murder

Sorry for the delay in blogging but I was not around most of the weekend. Anyhow lets start to catch up on recent transit events. On Thursday September 7, three suspects were arrested in connection to the murder of 19 year old Jose Sierra. In case you missed the horrific story, you can catch up by viewing my entry about the incident.

Here is a quick story about the arrests courtesy of 1010 Wins:

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Three suspects were arrested Thursday in connection with the subway shooting that left a 19-year-old man dead in Astoria, police said.

Jose Sierra, of the Bronx, was found dead Labor Day morning from a gun shot wound to the head at the Broadway stop on the N line in Astoria, authorities said.

Jose Alvarez, 20, Emanuel Ramirez-Hernandez, 23, and Nicolas Reyes, 20, were arrested and charged with murder, gang assault, and criminal possession of a weapon.

Lets hope that these assholes will get the book thrown at them. Also if anyone else is out there who is connected to this crime, that they also get the book thrown at them!

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