Follow by Email

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I drive... an ode to New Jersey Transit

When I think about the commute in and out of New York City inevitably I get anxious and somewhat angry.  After a few good weeks commuting, helped in large part to child illness and brief vacation, I was back at it the past few days.  Monday was met with deep, deep troubles.  After dealing with a daughter who was clearly not in a mood to go to school, or get out of bed for that matter, we still managed to all get out of the house before 7:40am.  Showers, lunches made, hostilities put aside and still all good to, YAY, catch the 8am train.  Nevermind our daughter is now at school a half an hour prior to opening bell.  She had 2 of the last 3 weeks off...  go get an education!!!

We make the loop and double back to the municipal parking lot.  I make a concerted effort to avoid hitting pedestrians.  So far, so good.  7:51am when we park.  I speed walk ahead of my wife and make my way to the ticket stand.  $99.00 for 9 one way tickets.  That is not going to be enough to get is back and forth all week.  But don't wanna drop the $150 right now and the Monthly pass is dicey during vacation months.  3 bills is something that has to be well thought out.  Not in the cards for April.

With about a minute to spare we make the train.  No coffee, but I do have a paper.  Somewhere around Summit the train starts to sputter a bit.  It's moving sure, but at a greatly reduced speed.  When it makes it to the station I notice we are lingering a bit.  Ok, 20 minutes and 2 stops.  Not ideal, but we only have 2 stops left.  We can make it up and still arrive @ 9, like the schedule reads. 

Hmm, why are we now stopping in Short Hills.  That is new.  And now Milburn?  Maplewood?  And why no information on the PA.  Would it kill NJ Transit to announce the obvious???  "Ladies and Gentlemen, you have clearly noticed we are no longer an express train.  Sorry once again for killing your expectations and making your morning a little more miserable."  I understand the conductors are mere pawns for their administrative bosses and Amtrak.  But I just dropped $11 a piece to take an 8am train that EXPRESSES to South Orange and gets me to Penn Station at 8:57am.  That is not happening now.  And when we arrive at South Orange you best believe it is standing room only.  The Newark stop doesn't help matters.  Oh wait, at 8:47 I get an email alert telling me the train I am on is expected to be delayed 20 minutes or so.

Thanks.  Let me get back to the car and try another way.  Oh, that's right, I have been captive for 50 minutes and not given an opportunity to edit my morning.  One PA announcement?  One "I am sorry?"  That might have helped ease the pain.  Because we all understand the system is imperfect.  We get it's Monday and s$%@ happens.  But when you willingly treat your customers with such disdain??  How can I accept it?

Especially when we did the same thing this morning but opted to drive (I know, Passover helps with car commute.)   As I exited the Holland Tunnel at 8:44, then parked in the West Village, took the 6 subway to Park Ave and 30th St, then walked into my office at 9:31, I thought to myself "I was still on the train yesterday at this time."  And we could go into the cost differentials; but what about my time and well being?  What are they worth? 

Quick Breakdown:

NJT: $22.00 roundtrip per person.  $44.00 for wife and I yesterday
Car: $15 to park, $8 Subway roundtrip.  97 Altima gas/wear and tear figure $15.00  Tolls: $7.00  $45.00 and I am probably going over the top on Altima $.  Car is great on gas when it is not $4.00 a gallon.

I am not factoring in the $400 yearly parking pass for town either.  I also have Satellite radio which is more useful/effective in the car than train.  When I look at the numbers it appears real close.

And the tie-breaker is always my time and well being.  And at the risk of sounding like a tool, I have a high self value.  And I am not the biggest people person.

Damn straight the car is better.  And now I have Al Gore on my case.  I keep trying Al I promise, but NJT is determined to keep me on NJ highways.  Cast your blame their way please.  I gotta refill my tank.

No comments:

Post a Comment