Artist John Sloan’s “Sixth Avenue Elevated at Third Street,” circa 1928.
THE COMMUTE: Last week (Part 1, Part 2) we started discussing the Dual Contracts. We continue with the rest of the discussion and also discuss the IND line, the decline of the elevated system (“The El”) and the rise of the subways.
The Dual Contracts, Continued…
After completion of the Fourth Avenue subway in Brooklyn, the former railroad lines that connected to the Fifth Avenue and Third Avenue Els in Brooklyn were reconnected to the Fourth Avenue subway instead. Also, as part of the Dual Contracts, the IRT and BMT were both extended in a six-track tunnel beneath Flatbush Avenue. The IRT was further extended eastward along Eastern Parkway to Utica Avenue (and via el to New Lots Avenue) and to Flatbush Avenue and Nostrand Avenue with plans for further extensions. The BMT continued further south along Flatbush Avenue to Prospect Park. There it connected to the Brighton line where the line had to be expanded to four tracks between Prospect Park and Church Avenue.
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IRT East Side Line at City Hall. (Source: John-Paul Palescandolo via NYCSubway.org)
THE COMMUTE: On Tuesday, we discussed the railroads and elevated lines that preceded the building of the first subway that still are in use today, and are now part of the subway system. Today we continue with the invention of electricity.
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An eight-car train gets ready for a trial run on the Sea Beach line. Source: NYCSubwayChat
THE COMMUTE: Three weeks ago I mentioned how the bus transfer system confused me as a youngster. I also had difficulty understanding the original porcelain IRT subway signs stating “Subway To All Trains,” which were still in use in the 1970s. As I grew up, I realized that the original meaning of the word “subway” referred to the underground passageway, not to the trains themselves and that “all trains” meant you could travel in both directions since that is not possible at some station entrances.
In October 2004, what we call the subway system celebrated its 100th birthday, but portions that are not underground are actually much older. In Sheepshead Bay we do not even have a subway — only outdoor segments, which connect to the subway within the inner neighborhoods of Brooklyn. There is a wealth of information on the internet regarding the history of the system and plans for expansion that were never realized. The premier subway site is nycsubway.org, which can answer most questions about the subway system. If not, you can always post your question on a transit forum such as subchat.com and a knowledgeable person will probably respond to you within minutes.
What I intend to do in this series is to concentrate on the history of the parts of the system directly affecting our area, give a general overview of the rest of the system, and point you to sites where you can find more detailed information.
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Rep. Bob Turner
Congressman Bob Turner has arranged for the MTA’s MetroCard van to come to the parking lot of the El Greco Diner, 1821 Emmons Avenue on the corner of Sheepshead Bay Road, August 31 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., to allow commuters to purchase and refill their regular and reduced-fair MetroCards (for seniors 65 and older) MetroCards.
An MTA representative will be on hand to answer any number of MetroCard-related questions, ranging from reduced-fair qualification to transfer procedure. Congressman Turner’s staff will also be on hand to answer and assist with constituents’ question regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, or any other federal agency.
According to Turner, “Most New Yorkers use MetroCards every day, but getting in touch with an MTA representative for any number of MetroCard related questions can require a long walk to the nearest information booth. This event will provide local residents with a convenient location to ask an MTA representative MetroCard related questions, resolve any issues they may be having, and refill or purchase MetroCard.”
For additional information, contact Turner’s Brooklyn district office, 1733 Sheepshead Bay Road, at (718) 426-5000.
A 1953 $0.15 subway token, good for one fare. Source: Lev Radin (NYC Transit Metrocard Unofficial Site)
THE COMMUTE: In the first two parts [Part I, Part II], we examined the history of free transfers in New York City, discussing types of trips requiring a second fare and how unfair it was. We asked the question if we are moving backwards by not allowing a second bus transfer for those using a local bus to access a Limited Stop Service or Select Bus Service since those who do could be faced with a double-fare. Today we discuss a fairer fare and why the MTA would be resistant to such a change.
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Source: CoolVintage / Etsy
THE COMMUTE: Last week, I briefly discussed the history of free transfers in New York City, expounding on types of trips requiring a second fare and how unfair it was. It was a simplified discussion, omitting reduced fare bus / subway transfers offered by the Board of Transportation, some free subway / bus transfers offered by the NYCTA and by some privately operated lines in the 1950s, and special programs such as half-fare on Sundays or the Shopper’s Special in Manhattan. (More detailed information is available here. We continue the discussion below).
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A map of 1978 bus transfers, from a 1975-1978 Department of City Planning Bus Study. Created by and courtesy of Allan Rosen. Click to enlarge
THE COMMUTE: Next to providing air conditioning on the subways and buses, the second greatest advancement made by the MTA/New York City Transit Authority was to provide free bus transfers throughout the system. Providing transfers between buses and subways comes in third and unlimited ride cards fourth, in my opinion. Even with all these advancements we still do not have a fare that is fair for everyone. If your trip requires more than two buses you must pay a second fare, but the number of subway trains you can take for one fare is unlimited.
Why should that be the case? Shouldn’t it be guaranteed that your trip within the city cost you only one fare, regardless of the number of vehicles required, or your fare determined by some other rational means? After all, you are not getting better service for the extra fare you pay. In fact you are already being penalized with additional wait times for that third bus. An extra fare would only make sense if you were being provided with extra service, because you are making an unusual trip and it is costing the MTA extra to provide that service to you. That is not the case. You require a third bus in most cases because of deficiencies in the routing system, which don’t permit you to complete your trip using two buses, or a bus and trains(s). That is not your fault — yet you are penalized for system inadequacies.
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Source: Flickr / paulmmay
We got a call late last week from a distressed reader, upset that $9 she had placed on her Metrocard disappeared the very same day. And, when she went to get something done about it, she found agency reps very unhelpful:
On Monday July 23rd @ 9AM I used my debit card to put $9 on a metro card that already had $9 on it. The screen showed a total of $18 and some change. When I got done working at 2PM I went to head home, when I swiped my card there was just over $6 and some change left after 1 use… I figured no big.. I will tell them at the booth, they should be able to help. NO GO… I got to the booth and was told by a very frank attendant, that there was nothing he could do for me, and that I needed to call customer service, and gave me and envelope to mail in my card, but I had to pay to mail it… I told him I knew he didn’t make the policy, but to make people wait a month for their money is a stupid policy. He again just said there is nothing he could do…
Something really needs to be done about this… The MTA is basically stealing from the people…
The reader added over the phone that she fears money disappears from cards like this all the time, and the agency benefits from people unwilling to seek reimbursement through the overwrought process, which includes forms, postage and a 30-day wait.
Like our reader, I know I’ve had money magically disappear from my card at least once. And, another time, when a newly-purchased card with $10 on it refused to work at any turnstile, the agency never responded after I mailed it in with the appropriate form. At the time, I chalked up the first incident to a quirky mechanical error, and the second to “lost in the mail.” But I’ve heard this story from others, too.
So, has money ever disappeared from your Metrocard? Have you ever sought reimbursement from the MTA? Let us know!
The Metrobus will visit Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’ community office, 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road (between Emmons Avenue and Shore Parkway), on Thursday, October 29. The all-in-one stop for Metrocard issues will be there from 10:00 a.m. to noon. The bus is equipped to handle all MetroCard transactions including applying for senior citizens and people with disabilities reduced fare MetroCards. A photo ID is required. For further information please call (718) 743-4078.