Your e-mails: Creative commutes
CNN.com readers on the New York City transit strike
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(CNN) -- Millions of New York City commuters are having to find new ways around town amid a transit strike that has brought the country's largest public transportation system to a grinding halt. CNN.com asked readers to e-mail their travel stories. Here are a few of their responses, some of which have been edited:
My daughter is in the fourth grade and didn't get to school until 12:30. We were unable to get a car until 11am; it took an hour and a half to drive seven miles. It cost my family $100 to get my daughter to and from school. I doubt she'll be going for the rest of the week. As I was walking up the street, I saw a man on crutches struggling not to slip on some ice. There were elderly people dragging boxes to the post office with makeshift handles made out of trash bags. My neighbor's frozen pipe burst and the plumber didn't arrive 'til five hours later. This strike is sickening. People are being forced into the freezing cold. It's 9:13 p.m. and we're only just getting home to make dinner.
Friends who came in from the outer boroughs told me they had an awful time, but coming from the Upper East Side wasn't bad at all. Normally everyone's rushing like mad in every direction to get to their train. But today, everyone was casually walking in one direction: downtown, to get to work. It was one of those we're-all-in-it-together New York moments where people go about things in a bemused sort of way, saying, "It's New York - what can you do?"
Wow...what a day. I live in Sunnyside Queens on 41st street. My roommate and I were watching the news all morning and were advised not to bother leaving the house during rush hour because it was so impossible to get anywhere. We left around 10 am and walked up to Woodside at 61st to catch the -LIRR (20 blocks). But that was nothing compared to what we encountered when we arrived in Woodside. There was a line for LIRR tickets wrapped around an entire block. We waited in cold for 2 hours before getting on an empty train into Manhattan (all the while suffering from frozen feet and hands despite appropriate winter gear). Once there I disembarked at Penn Station and walked from 33rd and 7th to 52nd and Madison (23 blocks). I finally arrived at work at 1:30 pm where I was congratulated by co-workers for actually sticking it through and making it in. Can't wait to see what the trip home is like...
Normally it takes me 25 minutes (door to door) to get to work via subway. After walking an hour this morning from Battery Park City to midtown where I work, I thought to myself I can actually do this on a daily basis. Not only can I get in some exercise, I can also truly enjoy my daily chocolate glazed donut without any sense of guilt. At the end of all this, I truly hope the TWU gets what they want from the big bad MTA.
My brother and I spent two hours online at the Forest Hills LIRR station. Worry was clearly written across the faces of many co-commuters, but we managed to keep things light joking of scalping tickets, selling our "spot" on line, and even going back to get the car to drive to the beginning of a ridiculously long line for tickets. I have to say though that the most remarkable story was hearing that my cousin Duane (awful morning person) get up at 4am to drive around picking up his much older co-workers so that they can get into work. What a guy!
I live in Harlem at 123rd Street and Lenox Avenue. I feel a bit guilty about this, but I must say that my commute to work is great! I walk 6 blocks to the Metro-North commuter train station in Harlem. There is no need to buy a ticket at the station so I go to the platform and wait a minimum of 2 minutes for a train. I have gotten a seat both mornings on the very clean and quiet cars. The actual travel time from the Harlem station to Grand Central Station is about 8-10 minutes. I walk in the terminal as far uptown as I can, keeping warm and listening to Elton John's greatest hits. When I emerge, I am at 48th Street and Madison Avenue, a mere 8 blocks from my office. My commute is at most 1 hour, approximately 20 minutes more than my usual subway commute.
Well, the last time I planned a visit to NYC my trip ended at the top of the empire state building during the blackout. I had to walk with my 83-year-old grandmother all the way to Brooklyn where we were staying. Now after waiting for quite some time to plan another trip to NYC I am facing another long walk. Maybe I won't plan any more trips to NYC; I seem to be having a turn of bad luck.
As I live in Brooklyn, work in the Bronx, and attend classes at NYU, I had pretty much given up any chance of getting anywhere I needed to be today. But one classmate from Long Island, being very ambitious, called up all the students in our class from the Brooklyn area and said she would pick us all up for our last class of the semester. We all got dressed and printed out our papers in a hurry. The class was about an hour and the ride was about four, but it was great for all of us to laugh and blow off a little steam at the end of the semester.
I absolutely commend those stories of New Yorkers who turned lemons into lemonade today on the first day of the strike. I wish I could feel their happiness. I am extremely angry with the striking transit workers who are putting our health and safety in danger. I never made it to work today. When calling the local car services, I was told "we have nothing available!" I finally caught a yellow cab, having to share with 2 other men I didn't know. A trip that usually costs me $15, cost me $30! That's $30 a piece, for all passengers! He never turned the meter on. When I dialed 311 to file my complaint, they assured me that what this driver did was perfectly legal. I'm in absolute amazement at this situation.
My commute from Queens ended up being complicated, including a nervous taxi driver, a shared ride with three strangers, miles of walking, a horrid experience in Penn Station ending with a free ride on the LIRR and then much more walking, but the positive take on it is that the city was lovely today, uncongested, clear and sunny. I could easily sense that the city was cleaner and quieter without all the trains and busses running. Though the MTA is a great asset to our city, I couldn't help but notice how much less filth was in the air during the strike. It made me wish these 'days off' were far more frequent. The air in our city needs the break!
The side streets in Long Island City surrounding the entrances to the Queensboro Bridge and Midtown tunnel were absolutely impassable during the evening rush hour. It was complete gridlock, drivers were getting impatient and blaring their horns as they drove around cars stranded in the middle of the intersections. Some intersections were completely blocked. A lot of yelling and car horns.
I live across the street from a Long Island Railroad station and thought I was lucky; I waited 45 minutes in freezing weather for the 7:15 into Penn Station. The train finally comes, and I get a seat, and I'm on my way, at a crisp 5 miles an hour. At the main hub in Queens (Jamaica Station) the train picks up a bunch of frozen commuters, glad to get out of the weather. We're on to Penn Station at a crisp 5 miles an hour! Great! It only took an hour for a normal 30 minute trip. I get to walk six blocks in the fresh air, (29 degrees) and am only an hour late for work.
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