~ Thursday, December 15, 2005 ~
Mayor Bloomberg says...
"The City is prepared for the worst case scenario with a robust contingency plan. A strike would be more than just illegal and inconvenient; it will threaten public safety and severely disrupt our City and its economy. Our contingency plan is designed to move as many people as possible using alternative means of transportation and to make sure that our streets remain passable for emergency vehicles. We will use ferries, carpools, and park and rides to move people around while lane reversals and HOV restrictions will keep traffic moving as best as possible. A strike would be incredibly inconvenient, but if New Yorkers work together and everyone pitches in, we would get through it."
It would indeed be incredibly inconvenient, especially because it comes in the middle of a fierce fierce cold spell, but in spite of that, I have to admit that I get a warm fuzzy feeling from his statement. Darn right it would severely disrupt the city and its economy. The subways are like death; they're the grand equalizer. I'm a student with a dumb retail job and you're a highly paid corporate lawyer and he's a janitor, and we all ride the subway. We all carry our metrocards, we all get antsy when we have to wait on the platform for more than 6 minutes, and we're all familiar with the buskers and beggars who work on our particular route. Don't be fooled by all the taxis clogging the streets; those are for the business people visiting from LA who can't be bothered to figure out The Map or are afraid to walk a few blocks. The subways are the city's circulation system, its lifeblood. Blood stops flowing, the city shuts down. What would we do without our trains? Some of us will walk to school or work, some will carpool, some (the braver ones) will bike, but the rest of us are going to humbly surrender and act like spineless out-of-towners for a day and catch taxis in exchange for submitting to baldfaced robbery. (The taxi fare estimate I heard was up to $10 for travel within a zone of approximately two square miles...the price of speed and central heating!) Apparently the taxicab drivers are drooling like wolves--no, like vultures--over all this fresh meat they'll be able to feast upon in a little less than 24 hours. Well, maybe I would be too.
But to separate for a moment from all the inconvenience, isn't it wonderfully humbling that New York is the kind of city that is so very dependent upon its trains? I mean, SEPTA was talking about severely cutting back on its service if voters didn't vote to give it more money, and people didn't care because SEPTA had screwed them all over so many times that they had become inured to it and just got into their cars without batting an eye. When CalTrain killed their weekend service, did people complain? And BART could shut down and much of the Bay Area might never know. But New York is a different story. People here have different opinions about the subways--some think it stinks, some find it romantic(guess which one is me)--but we all have active relationships with it, nurtured by our bidaily interactions. It's kind of charming to think we're all so inextricably connected to each other, that we all have such immediate common ground with anyone else who lives and works here, through the shared experience of riding the subway every day. Some people achieve a connection to their fellows with faith and a wafer; New Yorkers do it with stress and a metrocard.
As for the practical outcome, if they do strike, I'm hoping to bundle myself up like a sausage and bike to work on Friday, provided it doesn't rain/snow/sleet, as the weather report predicts it might. I figure if the roads are reasonably bikeable, all the other bikers will be out too, and it'll be a party on the Brooklyn Bridge's promenade and all up and down the west side greenway.
Read about Bloomberg's Robust Contingency Plan.
~ prattled by Miriam at 2:19 a.m. [+]
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