Transportation Archives

March 22, 2006

L Trains to get Message Boards

At long last the NYC subway system enters the 20th century! It seems that the MTA will be installing message boards to tell riders when the next train is coming:

MTA To Install Message Boards To Tell Riders When To Expect Next Train

The days of waiting on the subway platform not knowing when the next train will come will soon be a thing of the past. The Transit Authority is installing new electronic message boards that will give subway riders a countdown to the next train arrival.

I mostly taking the J line these days so this won't be an immediate plus for me, but I think in the end this will be a good thing for subway riders.

April 22, 2006

The L line vs. J line

Photo of a stairway to the J line, taken on June 19, 2005 Above: Photo of a stairway to the J line, taken on June 19, 2005.

Last night I took the L line train home and I was struck by how much different it was in terms of the demographic than the J line, which is my usual ride.

* The age range on the L train is very young, say 18 to 30 for he most part. On average I may spot about one family with a kid on the L line, as where on the J line you could see three to four families on a train. On the J line about 30% of the train would be 18 to 30, but you'll also see people who are much older - and more high school aged kids as well.

* The J line is much more blue collar. It's not to say that the entire train is working class, but the L line is very white collar and much more upscale. You can even see this in the technology that people have - both trains are crammed with cell phone users (although you'll see people using their phones more on the J line as it goes over the Williamsburg bridge), but on the L line you'll see many more people with iPods while on the J line some people have CD players.

* This isn't to say that there aren't hipsters on the J line about a 25% of the people I see fall into this group. However they are much more hard core than the L line hipsters. On the L line I see quite a few "tourist hipsters", people in from Europe or Japan who while dressing on the fun side, tend to dress a bit more cute. The J line hipsters have more of a punk look to them - it seems more real and less of an act.

* On the L line I have to get off on the 2nd stop (Lorimer), so I've always noticed how much you can see the demographics of the train changes once the first wave of people get off at Bedford. The Bedford folks are even much more upscale and cute trendy than the people who stay on for the next few stops.

* The L line is much more crammed than the J line. I took a train at 11pm and it was packed wall to wall with people standing - if that was the J line the main thing might be if you could get a seat or not. It's only a matter of time until they need to start running express trains between Bedford and Union Square.

NYC Blogs on the J Line:

NYC Blogs on the L Line:

June 10, 2006

The Perfect Car for Brooklyn

Unlike Manhattan, Brooklyn is very spread out and you can't always get every place via the subway or bus. It looks like Mercedes-Benz is thinking of bringing an ultra-small car (two seater) to the United States:

Is Smart coming to the U.S.?

You can see tiny Smart cars, those egg-shaped two-seaters, doubled up in parking spaces or sitting on city sidewalks all over Europe, where they have been sold since 1998. But Smart has never come to the United States. The Mercedes-Benz unit has struggled to make money from the day it was conceived, and writeoffs to date run to the billions of dollars. With losses so steep, plans to sell the car here have been repeatedly delayed as Mercedes has struggled to find a profit-making formula.

Now, DaimlerChrysler chairman Dieter Zetsche is dropping hints that Smart will make its way to the United States. Speaking to reporters in Portland, Oregon last week at an event marking the 25th anniversary of Daimler's acquisition of Freightliner trucks, Zetsche said a final decision on Smart for the U.S. would be made this month, once a verdict was reached on how to distribute it.

He added in his German-tinged English, "The tendency is positive in this regard."

Translation: Consider it all but done.

It looks like they are thinking of selling them for $12k and they get 70 miles per gallon. I'd love to see these cars on the streets of Williamsburg!

Here are some related links:

July 7, 2006

Plans To Computerize L Train Over Budget

Looks like the L train "improvement project" isn't doing so well:

Plans To Computerize L Train Over Budget, Behind Schedule

Plans to fully computerize the L subway line are now $30 million over budget and a year behind schedule. The Transit Authority doesn't have enough new trains to handle the surge in ridership on the line, forcing the agency to bring back some of the older trains.

The high-tech trains were first introduced four years ago and led to critics blasting the TA's plan to eliminate conductors, charging it would compromise safety. Conductors were taken off the line last June, but an arbitrator ordered them brought back in September.

Maybe they should think of having special express trains at peak hours? This would be a low tech solution that might help. Half the people always get off at Union Square or at Bedford anyway. But if anything with new housing starts by the waterfront the problem is going to get worse.

However the J line isn't too bad - yet!

July 14, 2006

Water Taxi Service comes to Williamsburg

As I walk across the Williamsburg Bridge I'm always slightly jelous looking out at the boats on the river. Well it looks like at long last one can take a boat ride with ease:

Water Taxi Adding Williamsburg Service

New York Water Taxi will begin operating service to Schaefer Landing in the Brooklyn neighborhood on Monday. The stop will be added to the company's existing East River route, which includes stops at Hunter's Point in Queens and East 34th Street and Pier Eleven in Manhattan. Service between Williamsburg, Pier Eleven and East 34th Street will run from 6:23 a.m. and 9:23 a.m., and 4:25 p.m. and 7:49 p.m.

The website for the service is here:

July 29, 2006

The Weekend J Line Summer Blues

Much to my horror I discovered that the J line won't be going across the Williamsburg Bridge from July 29 to August 20th. On the plus side this will only occur weekends, so my weekday work train trek won't be hurt too badly. But man those buses can get crammed with people. The one neat thing about taking the bus over the bridge is that the view is much better than that of the subway or even walking over the bridge itself. This is because there is nothing in the way of your view of the river.

September 29, 2006

Moving a Couch on the Subway

Only in Williamsburg:

Found via

October 18, 2006

Yes! The L Train is here...

This is a collage of photos that I took as the L train rolled into the 6th Avenue station (click to enlarge the image):


Photos created with my not-so-trusty Treo cellphone on October 14th, 2006.

December 26, 2006

Watch Every Traffic Camera in Brooklyn

This website lets you watch real-time streaming videos and still images of Brooklyn whenever you want:

Advanced Traveler Information System

"A total of 18 cameras are available at key traffic points around the Brooklyn accessible from both the map and the list below. 2 cameras provide both streaming video or still images, 16 cameras provide only still images."

Watch Every Traffic Camera in Brooklyn

January 26, 2007

Robotrain set to Attack in 2008!

It's sad that they're going to humiliate the poor motormen by making them take instructions from a computer! Also the idea of being stuck in a tunnel with a robotrain doesn't thrill me. However I do like the idea of digital signs:

Robotrains At Least A Year Away

"The MTA’s plan to put computer-operated trains on the L line is at least a year away. The agency says the trains have been ordered, but won’t arrive until June, at which point they will need to be outfitted with the computer technology and train the operators and conductors.

The high-tech trains will first be driven by motormen taking instructions from a computer and signal system on how fast to go and when to stop. The next step is to have the trains assume all driving duties with the motormen taking over only if necessary.

Meanwhile, the MTA is gearing up to expand the L-line's new digital platform screens.The screens, which were installed earlier this month, tell straphangers exactly when the next train is expected to arrive.

April 19, 2007

Kosciuszko Faces Waterloo

the Kosciuszko bridge in NYC as seen from outerspace

Just what Greenpoint needs, another large scale construction project:

Kosciuszko Bridge Could Face Renovation,
Or Even Demolition In Near Future

"The state Department of Transportation is evaluating plans to either replace or refurbish the 68-year-old span that carries the Brooklyn-Queens expressway over the Newtown Creek. The state DOT outlined its six options at a public hearing in Greenpoint Thursday. The agency said safety is a major issue on the bridge, because of narrow lanes, insufficient shoulders and limited sight distance.

"It was built before interstate highways were even constructed so it has some features that really don't fit within in the interstate system, as well as the structure is just old, it was built in the ‘30s,” said Adam Levine of the state DOT.

Options include simply maintaining the bridge, rehabbing it while adding a parallel span, or demolishing the old bridge and building a new one or two. Except for the no-build option, the plans would displace some homes and businesses, like Karp Associates, a more than 50-year-old company in Maspeth that makes doors and shelves and employs one hundred people." about we spend the money to improve the G train instead?

June 16, 2007

Waiting on the J Line

The shadow of a J train rider on the platform of the Marcy Street subway station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photographed by Michael Pinto on May 21st, 2007.

Seen above is the shadow of a J train rider on the platform of the Marcy Street subway station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

June has been a cruel month for those of us who ride the J line, and now that I think about it May wasn't so great either. There's been quite a bit of work on the line which should have been finished some time ago. In fact the one thing I hate the most is seeing a notice that things will be off for the next two weeks, and then two weeks later see yet another sign or brochure with the same info.

The problem I've been hitting is that the trains only run every 25 minutes beween 10am and around 3pm. When this first started they printed out a schedule, but sadly after about amonth I've lost it. I've tried to solve my problem by going to the L line which runs quite well and has those nifty signs telling you when the next train is due. The problem is that this adds about 15 to 20 minutes to my trip into Manhattan, so either way I'm screwed...

To see the photo at full size just click on it. Photographed on May 21st, 2007.

May 5, 2008

I Envy Those Who Can Dream on a Train

I Envy Those Who Can Dream on a Train

Photos taken on the J line traveling into Manhattan.

Collage from iPhone photos taken on April, 2008.

March 16, 2009

Underground at L Line

Waiting for the Lorimer L Train

Since about 2005 I've been a J train man, so it's always interesting for me to go back to the L line which I tend to hit every now and then on weekends. The first thing that always surprises me is how often the line seems to be running in two sections or have some other type of issue. It's also always mazing to me how much more high end the commuters looks on the line, it's always much more of a hipster fashion show event. Although the one thing that stands out about the L line is that because you're underground you still feel more connected to Manhattan in some odd way — while the elevated track of the J line reminds you that you're very much on a different island.

Continue reading "Underground at L Line" »

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