Saturday, April 29, 2006

Clogging The Airways

One of Metro North's design features that we've seen on some previous New Haven line trains is the lighting grid. A fantastic feature to attract, trap and then release into the lungs of a commuter, lots of tiny dust particles.

Yesterday's 5.01 pm evening ride on car #8718 had one of the thickest concentrations of particles I have seen. So thick that the grid was covered in places.

The pics tell the story (double click to enlarge).

Dancing on Mr. Clean's Grave

After a few days off from riding the rails and my regular morning schedule, yesterday I was once again on a New Haven line inbound to Grand Central for 8:25am.

The track? 20
The garbage condition at the rear of the train? horrible

After previous posts hoping that the Metro North scheduling wizards would get more garbage cans to the rear of the track 20/21 platform, what did we find? No new cans and no Newspaper recycling bin. Dozens of commuters getting off the train with papers to recycle - doing the right thing. Metro North creating a mess and potential liability should a commuter slip and trip on the mess - doing the wrong thing.

Yesterday's pics (double click to enlarge):
  1. What's that near the end of the platform?
  2. Typical 2 cans with gap for missing Newspaper bin
  3. All the newspapers indicate commuters want to recycle
  4. What a mess
  5. Hoping no one slips
  6. Mr. Clean's nemesis

Don't Mind My Hair

The evidence of Metro North design shortcomings on the New Haven line trains just keeps rolling in... the latest area from Thursday's ride? Seat design.

For some reason, the Metro North design gurus decided to put a short seat as the aisle seat on the 3 side of the 2-3 configurations on the New Haven line. Perhaps it was to make it easier for a seated passenger to see up the aisle. It wasn't for the conductors since they're standing.

The outcome of a short seat? For the passenger in that seat it makes it harder to rest as your head is either hanging over or you need to slide ass forward until your feet prop up on the seat in front. For the commuter behind? You get someone's unwashed hair draping over your lap and another reason to take Purell with you on Metro North.

Thursday morning's pics from car #8809:
  1. Wonderful design
  2. Not going to touch that seat
  3. Wishing for new high back seats

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tripping On The Way To Catching The Bouquet

MTA Metro North's Mileposts communication to customers in April confirms what we all know. That beaten down equipment on the New Haven line can't turn in on time performance like those new trains riding the other lines.

The April Mileposts of February 2006 data did show that the New Haven line broke it's January 2006 consistent ranking of last place in every possible metric.

How did the New Haven line do for February ? Still not catching the bouquet.
  • Last in AM performance? New Haven.
  • Last in PM performance? New Haven.
  • Last in Off-peak weekday performance? New Haven.
  • Last in Off-peak weekend performance? Harlem. Harlem? by 0.7%
  • Last overall? New Haven.
Today's pic is a scan from the back of the April 2006 Milepost.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Decorating With Duct Tape #4

Just when you thought that Metro North ran out of areas on its train cars to duct tape, the commuter once again is surprised. Tonight while riding home on car #8554, I got to add the plastic seat frame to earlier Metro North duct tape design projects of ceilings, doors, seats, and floors. What is left? Can they duct tape a window?

Tonight's pics (click to enlarge):
  1. What's that on the side of the seat?
  2. Check out the glare
  3. The Duct Tape looks like aluminum foil in my toaster
  4. Standard seating across the aisle

The Sky Is Falling! ... Again?

Yesterday, while travelling through the 48th street and Park Avenue bunker, the commuter had to once again brave walking under exposed piping and ceilings with no barriers. The only thing roped off was the scaffolding... protect commuters from walking where they can't walk anyhow. Well done.

Does Metro North need to be giving remedial courses on barrier placement?

Yesterday's pics (click to enlarge):
  1. Check out the gap - no barriers
  2. Look out above
  3. More commuters under the gap
  4. Plenty of piping up there
  5. Couldn't they have extended the barrier?
  6. Let's protect the scaffolding

Driving Me To Drink

What's next? Ads for cigarettes? On Tuesday morning while riding car #8430... an entire car covered with green Heineken beer bottles. I might feel better if it was ads for Guiness.

The pics:
  1. View look down the car - 20 ads in one car?
  2. At an angle
  3. Looking back
  4. Close up

Bed Time

On Monday night while riding home on car #8802, I once again got to experience that fine Metro North Railroad engineering and design that has trains riding the rails with no interior lights but the emergency lights by the door. Check out the guy doing his crossword by hanging into the aisle. At least it was a quiet ride.

Monday's pics:
  1. Vestibule lights on
  2. Interior lights out
  3. View from the seat
  4. Another shot
  5. Across the aisle
  6. Struggling to see his crossword
  7. Another view
  8. View across the aisle

Friday, April 14, 2006

Heat Wave

It's not every organization that can claim a surplus on the back of rate increases. It's not every organization that gets to be a monopoly. It's not every organization that doesn't empower its employees. It's not every organization that can ignore increasing energy costs. It's not every organization that is Metro North Railroad.

Today we had a beautiful spring day with temperatures in the 60s. Today we could walk outside without a jacket. Today, Metro North decided to run the heat on both my morning and afternoon rides home. Not just any heat. The amount of heat that makes the walls hot to the touch.

Riding car #8400 into Grand Central for 8:45am, I learned that the conductor can't adjust the heat. No thermostat control. He had to suffer through it too. We trust conductors with the safe operation of a train worth millions and the lives of all those aboard. What Metro North designer felt that we couldn't trust them with a temperature control? The announcement suggested we move to another car. The conductor's answer? Open the one window near his booth. So we are heating in springtime, with temperatures in the 60s and the window is open.... and we're paying for it.

On my afternoon 3:33pm out of Grand Central (hey it's Good Friday), I take a seat in car #8428 and wouldn't you know it... the heat is on. Is this some Metro North joke? Freeze in the winter and heat in the spring? This time there's no window near us, so my fellow commuters look for a way to jam open the rear door so some air will blow through the car. And what do we find under our seat? One of those red planks we've seen the conductor use to prop open his door. Once again, we are heating in springtime, with temperatures in the 60s and the door is open... and we're paying for it.

Today's pics:
  1. Morning magic window
  2. Another view
  3. Parked at Grand Central
  4. Afternoon descent to lower 'cool' track
  5. Door to prop open
  6. The prop

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Shhh... I'm Sleeping

At the recent March 2006 Commuter Council Presidents Forum, a number of commuters pressed the Metro North president on creating a 'quiet' car. They suggested it be in the middle of the train where ridership is lower. They suggested it be posted as such and that conversation, especially cell phones, would have to occur in another car. They suggested Metro North give it a try, a pilot. President Cannito refused siting the inability to police people, and that many people want to talk on the train.

Today, I rode on the quiet car. Not just quiet. Silent. Freaky silent. Not a word, murmur, cell phone, sneeze or cough. For over an hour this morning on car #9055 a commuter had the Metro North 'quiet' car.

How did Metro North do it? Did President Cannito relent? Nope. Good old Metro North design. The interior lights failed and only emergency lights near the doors worked. Too dark to read, commuters took to closing their eyes (myself included) and enjoyed the quiet.

Today's pics:
  1. Lights out in CT
  2. View after arriving in Grand Central
  3. Another view in the darkness

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Price Inelasticity #2 - thanks Ben

I stand corrected to my earlier post. Buying a ten-trip off peak at a discount and using it during peak invokes a Metro North policy of step up fares that is greater than the one-way difference. Net-net. Unless your conductor knows you and cuts some slack or is really bad at basic math, the ten-trip off peak will not likely save you over the ten-trip peak ticket.

What does this mean for the commuter? There's no effective discount on a ten-trip ticket. Only a paper and time saving over buying them one off. Since Metro North is effectively saving by having to only process one ticket instead of 10, shouldn't they be passing on some of those savings?

Today's pic is the email answer from Metro North.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Death to Mr. Clean

The saga at platform 20 continues for the early morning Metro North commuter. Exiting mid-train I found stacks of Bud Light boxes before crossing the garbage zone.

Does Metro North not know it's such a mess or do they not care?

Today's pics:
  1. The car
  2. Early morning bar car service output?
  3. View as heading to the back of the platform
  4. Passing the bin
  5. Recycle me...
  6. View looking towards front of train

There's No Energy Crisis #2

Once again, the commuter gets to experience that fine Metro North design for side door weather stripping. Once again we have poor fitting, gaps, of a screwed in piece of rubber. Not a six-Sigma type of quality process.

The pics:
  1. Various gaps under the doors
  2. Left door
  3. Right door
  4. Close up
  5. On other side of car
  6. Train number

Time For A Shine

On yesterday's evening Metro North train out of Grand Central (car #8702), found myself on a local hitting many of the stops. These guys felt no shame at stretching out and getting their feet up. Time to once again break out the Purell.

The pics:
  1. Hey Man... move that foot
  2. I didn't mean up on the seat
  3. There's the culprit
  4. He's got a friend
  5. The tag team
  6. Chewing on more ways to dirty up the seats

Friday, April 07, 2006

Where's My Track?

One thing Metro North has gotten right, is decent signage while on the platform to indicate track numbers. The upper level signs are certainly a lot nicer than those on the lower level.


It never fails on Metro North's New Haven line. The railroad that's always got poor service, poor design, or disappointment waiting for its commuter.

On Wednesday morning, riding car #8701, I got to see a sight that I hadn't seen before...

As background, every side door, on every car has an emergency lever that can open the door. The emergency lever is hidden behind some fake wood panelling. The panel opens by turning two metal clips and then swings free. Once open, you could free yourself from the train in case of an emergency.

What does Metro North do when the two metal clips on the panel are broken? Does it replace what's probably a $5 item? No... they rip an Emergency Exit sign from the end door of the car and slap it across the panel to seal it shut. Problem? How will a commuter get it off? Got a Swiss army knife, screwdriver, or should a commuter pull off all their nails while trying to get free?

The pics:
  1. The panel with the sign stuck across it
  2. A close up shot
  3. What a normal panel looks like...
  4. ...with a working metal clip
  5. The emergency instructions
Perhaps we should amend the instructions from:
  • Listen for directions...
  • Open this panel
  • Follow instructions inside
  • Exit the train
  • Listen for directions...
  • Find a weapon or tool
  • Break the seal
  • Open this panel
  • Follow instructions inside
  • Exit the train

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Oopss... Sorry

One of the bad things about getting an aisle seat on Metro North is that some inconsiderate fellow commuter will whack you with his bags while walking down the aisle.

Tonight's victim? Women sitting diagonally across from me mid-train. Tonight's perpetrator? Ear Bud Guy whose two bags made him twice as wide as an average human and destined to whack somebody.

The kicker? After he realized (when we pointed it out) that he had hurt her, he shouted a half-hearted 'Sorry' as he couldn't be bothered to turn off the iPod and apologize in a normal voice.

Tonight's pics:
  1. Back of whacker struggling to maneuver his bags
  2. Like that width will fit down the aisle
  3. Ear Bud Guy

Mr. Clean Died On Track 20

With garbage cans moveable, recycling newspaper bins on wheels, and a predicted passenger load by train, there's no excuse for Metro North having overflowing garbage bins at 8:30am.

The concepts of scheduling and resource management must be foreign to the railroad when it comes to garbage removable at the end of the platform between tracks 20 and 21.

This mornings pics show that yesterday's mess was not some anomaly.

Decorating With Duct Tape #3

Who knew we would get an answer so soon to what's next with the duct tape holding together Metro North trains question?

This morning's car #8464 adds to the walls, doors and seats we've seen with duct tape, repairing the floor by an Emergency Exit. Now that gives a sense of security.

Cracking The Code #4

Last week's pics of some of the Metro North Railroad cars I travelled on... similar range to prior weeks (8400s-8800s).

The pics:
  1. 8801
  2. 8508
  3. 8566
  4. 8822
  5. 8700
  6. 8722
  7. 8440
  8. another view of 8440

Monday, April 03, 2006

Mr. Clean's On Holiday

What a bloody mess today and Metro North service disappointment.

As I left my 8:25am arrival at Grand Central, I caught this site while heading for the back stairs. Two garbage cans overflowing and spilling onto the ground. The newpaper bin overflowing and door propped open so the recycling can all spill out. If that was just from the morning rush then Metro North should empty the bins every few trains. If it was spill over from the weekend, then they should clean it before the morning rush.

And on the ride home? As I headed through the tunnel at the 48th street bunker, I caught the site of bags of garbage stacked by the stairs. Now that's a new one. Usually the area is blocked for ceiling repairs.

And on the train itself? Nice stench from the bathroom. Hope the commuters check before entering... because that extra roll? It's not in the bathroom. Looks like Metro North left it on the luggage rack.

Today's pics:
  1. Overflowing morning bins between tracks 20/21
  2. Evening garbage pile
  3. Side of bathroom with spare roll in the luggage rack

Decorating With Duct Tape #2

After the amount of duct tape I saw in a Metro North Railroad bar car last month, you would think that I wouldn't be surprised to see it again.

As I left tonight's train home (car #8815), the delayed 7:11pm out of Grand Central, I caught some duct tape repairing a wall above the luggage rack and managed to get a quick pic.

So now we've seen duct tape repair on seats, doors and walls. What's next?

Make Way For My Beer

I don't know if it's the commuters or what Metro North does to us that turns so many well dressed people into such desperate, etiquette be missed scramblers trying to get seats.

Tonight, on the delayed 7:11 out of Grand Central on track 24 you knew a problem was going to happen. First they didn't post the track until after 7:00 pm. Then there was no train when people shuffled down. Then the crowd grew. And grew. And grew.

Now, if you've been through these situations before, you know that there will be enough seats for everyone. But that wasn't enough for 'beer guy'. He had to start shuffling forward with his open beer. Empty train arrives and you know what happens... not like the Titanic with women and children first. No... Here it's beer guy pushing ahead to get his cherished aisle seat near the bathroom
(car #8815).

And why was the train delayed? Kudos to Metro North's conductor for clearly telling us as we departed that a sick passenger caused a train delay and thereby a switch in equipment. Kudos to Metro North for taking care of that passenger. Kudos to 'beer guy' for going home and being able to brag to the wife how he pushed everyone aside to get a seat.

Tonight's pics:
  1. Crowd waiting for the 7:11
  2. More people arriving
  3. Another view
  4. Train arriving at end of station
  5. Back of 'Beer Guy' pushing, you can just make out the beer
  6. In his seat singing his victory song
  7. Uh... where's my ticket?
  8. Will his manners improve if he keeps whacking his head?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Waving In The Wind

Nothing to do with Metro North Railroad, but my commute does take me out of Grand Central, up Park Avenue a few blocks to pass the Waldorf=Astoria.

The pics:
  1. The famous Waldorf=Astoria
  2. Serbia & Montenegro (or The Netherlands upside down)
  3. Luxembourg
  4. Paraguay
  5. Italy
  6. France