Your e-mails: Creative commutes
CNN.com readers on the New York City transit strike
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(CNN) -- A transit strike in New York City brought the country's largest public transportation system to a grinding halt Tuesday, forcing millions of commuters to find a new way to get around town. CNN.com asked readers to e-mail their commuting stories. Here are a few of their responses, some of which have been edited:
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 buses 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!
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?"
I live and work in Manhattan. I've been through 9/11, blackouts, bomb scares, a fire in my building. I just walked an hour to work and home. New Yorkers are resilient. We're used to disruptions. No big deal! Hopefully they'll get more money.
I will be walking to and from work, which takes a total of 40 minutes each way. My trek is a far cry from what the poor folks in Brooklyn and Queens have to endure. Taylor Law aside, I believe the TWU members have the right to fight for what they are worth. On the other hand, a strike before two very heavy holiday travel weeks is in bad taste. I think this alone is going to leave the New York public bitter and less supportive of their cause. New Yorkers can deal with any adversity, just please don't ruin our holiday and New Year's.
I think the strike could be beneficial for New York. Residents and commuters are being forced to find alternative means to get around -- such as rollerblading, biking, and walking -- all of which promote our health and are less harmful to our environment. Of course, I'd still prefer a fully functional public transportation system.
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 take the subway to work and it generally takes me 30 minutes door to door. Due to the strike today, I rode my bike and it only took me 15 minutes. I got a runny nose, my face was a little cold and I almost ran into about 10 people as they were crossing the roads without looking. Just your average day in NYC.
I had an extremely lucky commute this morning despite the transit strike. Within minutes of leaving my apartment in Astoria to look for a cab, I was picked up by a limousine driver in need of enough passengers to get meet the HOV restriction and get over the Queensboro Bridge. I was his first find of the morning and I helped him by tracking down other passengers at the Astoria Park commuter spot and got not only a luxury ride, but he was also grateful enough to refuse to charge me any fare. Everyone else at the office had stories of hardship while I avoided the cramped subway for a free ride in style.
I live in Manhattan. I walked over 60 blocks in the freezing cold and then took a shuttle bus to the hospital where I work. There were over 100 people on the bus and some were turned away. I have a full-time job PLUS I have finals this week -- I am a doctoral student at Columbia University. Not good timing! I do not support the strike, although I did get some good exercise in this morning.
I might be one of the few people in this city who was glad there was a transit strike. I live in Brooklyn Heights and work in the financial district. Normally my commute takes about 20 minutes via the subway. Today, I had to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to get to work and it only took 45 minutes. I must say, the walk was fantastic. During the winter, I don't get to see the sun very much, so it was nice to get to walk around for 45 minutes. The sky was beautiful, and it was great for people watching. Everyone on the bridge was extremely polite; bikers who were trying to get past you would calmly say "on your left" without being a stereotypical rude New Yorker. Another added benefit was extra exercise -- it's going to be a combined hour and a half of walking today for me. It's already hard enough to find time to exercise. If the wind chill wasn't down to 15 degrees, it would have been absolutely perfect. Thank you MTA and TWU. Now I am going to walk to work more often and I would never have considered it unless I was forced to do it.
Today, I had to walk 75 blocks (from 110th Street to Penn Station) at 5:30 a.m. lugging a suitcase to make my flight out of Newark. Robert Toussaint and the TWU workers deserve a stocking full of coal this year.
Traffic this morning on I-95 south was great!! No one was on the road! I work in the Stamford, Connecticut, mall and we were busier than normal, even for this time of year. It seems as though more people will be telecommuting-commuting for the remainder of the week allowing for more time to get those last minute gifts. The strike is horrible for those who now have to walk, etc and for the NYC economy -- but it might not be such a bad thing for surrounding communities.
I used the Hudson River Park to bicycle down from my apartment at 23rd Street to my office at Chambers Street. It was cold! The sunshine helped, though, and there was something very liberating about not having to rely on the transit system. Much to my surprise, the running/biking path was not crowded at all. I expected to see tons of fellow New Yorkers out there pedaling away, too. Perhaps that will change if the strike continues.
I was going to give work a skip today with the blessing of my company, but my girlfriend had a much less understanding boss to answer to, so in order to help her out in meeting HOV restrictions, we hopped in a cab from Park Slope, picked up a lone rider in Brooklyn Heights, and made it across the Brooklyn Bridge without a care. I then huffed up Broadway to Union Square and then up Park Avenue to work. It's actually fairly quiet below 14th Street, but there's a total lack of information on the fare structures for cabs and no organization around pick-up points and drop off locales. It could be much more efficiently handled.
I walked 47 blocks. I am cold. My holiday party was cancelled. I got the short end of the stick. No free liquor, just free exercise.
I left my house in NJ at 5 a.m. in order to attempt to make it to work on time. After standing in a 45 minute cab line, I was able to make to the office to discover that only I and another employee from New Jersey had attempted to come in to our department. Instead of handling my normal workload, I am currently working as a telephone operator trying to calm my clients when my coworkers are not here. What an efficient day.
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