Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wall Street via Weehawken

In which our hero explores the wilds of New Jersey by bus.

Alternately titled, I Ain't No Holla-nd Tunnel Girl

So, I made it to work today. I realized I could take a New Jersey Transit bus from the Manhattan side of the George Washington Bridge to Hoboken, and then connect to the PATH train for the World Trade Center. It only cost $5.50 and took two hours.

I'm not sure how crowded the #181 bus heading into New Jersey is at 6:49 a.m. normally is, but it was jam-packed this morning; thankfully I had a seat. There were several other downtown-bound New Yorkers, some of whom were openly muttering about doing this three days in a row. These weren't suited-up executives, they were clearly people who needed every cent in their paycheck, and they have no alternative to leaving an hour earlier than normal, getting home an hour later, and paying $11 a day for the pleasure, presumably on top of what they earlier paid for a MetroCard they can't use right now.

Speaking of MetroCards, when I was researching my itinerary yesterday I was delighted to discover that MetroCards with dollar amounts (as opposed to unlimited ride cards) could be used for PATH train fares. As part of that idiotic "holiday fare" promotion, participants in the TransitChek program received "complimentary" MetroCards worth $10. When it first came in the mail, I thought, "What the hell is this? I have a pre-paid MetroCard that never expires, what am I going to do with this?" I had decided to use it as a Christmas present for a very special someone (*gasp* "A MetroCard, oh, Andy, you shouldn't have!!!") but couldn't find anyone special, so it was still sitting on my desk. "Aha!" I thought, "I can use it for the train today."

Well, it was a lovely idea, but it didn't work. I fed the card into the turnstile, and a big red light lit up, "INVALID CARD." Thank you, MTA. Of course because I couldn't go through I created a pile-up in the line of commuters behind me. They had two vending machines, one of which was broken, so I gave up and went through the cash line since I had change. The fare is $1.50, and naturally I had deposited $1.25, but the fucking thing wouldn't take my last quarter. I kept putting it in and it would fall through to the change bin. "Please deposit $.25," the display read. I even changed quarters. The leviathanesque queue behind me was lengthening and growling. Finally it went through. I turned back and saw it was doing it to the next person, too, so I felt vindicated.

Anyone want a $10 MetroCard?

I really don't want to do that again.

Of course it beat my boss's trip in yesterday. He walked up to Riverdale in The Bronx, took a MetroNorth train to Grand Central Station, walked 10 blocks to the PATH train station, then left Manhattan and went to Hoboken and came back on the WTC train. This shit's B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

I've already come up with a variation for the trip home. The accountant lives in Hoboken, so we're going to take the ferry right outside the office and then have a drink or two to fortify me for the long, slow bus ride back to Manhattan.

What kind of messed up commute from one end of an island to another involves two buses, a train and a boat via a detour to another state?


Jeff said...

Maybe you'll be lucky and some transit will be back up by the time you leave work today.

And yeah - the PATH machines suck. I don't know why your Metrocard didn't work, but aside from that, the machines are so old and much slower than the touch-screen MTA machines.

Nathan said...

I rode my bike ten blocks from my house to my lab today (5 min). Thhhppppttt!! Oh, and it's going to be 67° today, and sunny. Sucks to be you...

(I only say this because you got your MTA back and your commute should be easier tonight)

Jere said...

Yeah, I'll take it.