me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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On the asininity of the Long Island Railroad

Anyone who's been reading this blog for awhile knows I'm no fan of the MTA. I'm a big fan of mass transit, and of NYC's subway system in particular. In my opinion, however, that system runs as well as it does in spite of its management, and in no way because of it.

Even the MTA, though, has a hierarchy. In order of general incompetence, from least to most, I'd rank the MTA'S components thusly: Metro-North; the NYC subway system; the NYC bus system; and bringing up the sorry rear, the LIRR.

I'm on an LIRR train right now. The train's fine, if a little old and shabby. It left more or less on time, and will probably get to Ronkonkoma more or less on time, and if it doesn't, the North Fork train will wait for it. It always does.

It always does, when it runs at all. Luckily, it's summer. If I wanted to get out to the North Fork in the winter, mostly I'd be screwed. They've cut that train way back, so now the only possibility is to choke up the road with more cars, or to take the jitney motorcoach bus thing. Which also chokes up the road, just with a few fewer square feet per person.

Furthermore, the train we'll meet to go to the North Fork is a putative 5:25. Those of us who actually could go out earlier in the day, which would relieve the rush-hour crowding, too bad. The only earlier train is like 9 in the morning. I'd have had to leave NYC at 7:30. I could get a train to Ronkonkoma just about any time, but then I'd be sitting around Ronkonkoma for hours. Or I'd have left a car there last weekend, and I'd do the last hour and a half in it, choking up the road per the above paragraph.

In addition, check this out: they want me to buy my ticket in advance. They put ticket machines in Penn Station for this purpose, and they charge more for on-board ticket purchases to encourage pre-trip buying. I get to Penn Station half an hour before train time, because there's always a line at the machines. (It's worse at the windows.) I'd love to avoid this line, or at least, avoid the return engagement at the line every week. While I'm standing there, swiping my credit card, I could buy half a dozen tickets, and then poof, I don't have to get to the station early or stand on line. So could half the people on these lines. Then think how short the lines would be for everyone else.

Except, you see, Long Island Railroad tickets are only good for 14 days.

So I can only buy this week's round trip; I'm even afraid to buy next week's, in case I get a ride, or find myself needing to take the bus back for whatever reason. All the weekenders going to both Forks are in the same position. And even if you weren't worried about using next week's ticket, you still would have to stand in line the week after that.

What a system, huh? I bet youse dollars to doughnuts that at least half the MTA Board members have country houses, nay, estates, on Long Island. To which, no doubt, they drive.

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