Strike Force Delta

NYC TransitWithout getting into whether I side with New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority or Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union in the labor strike that has put a halt to most commuting in New York City this morning, and at the risk of sounding too easily dismissive of the genuine hardship that this situation has dropped in the laps of average New Yorkers as well as the striking workers (who are, after all, average New Yorkers themselves), let me say there is a silver lining in this cloud: Manhattan, today, is less like its usual convergence of angry rivers of traffic, and more like a peaceful countryside of gentle streams of cars. It’s nice. And, to top it off, there are cones lining the major avenues running north and south along the length of the island — believe it or not, these are bike lanes, intended to let human beings get to and from without the aid of automakers or oil companies. I’ve always wanted to see cars sharing the city’s major thoroughfares with bicycle traffic.

  1. Mmm… Yeah. I have to agree. It’s kind of nice. Maybe the quietest I’ve heard it since the blackout. Or 911. Can’t help wondering if the City might be a little nicer if it were a bit less car- and a bit more bike-friendly. I’d probably bike a lot if it were.

    Happy Holidays.


  2. What a coincidence. I just came back from work few minutes ago, opening the TV seeing that in NYC in the news, and at the same time, relaxing on the sofa, I open my iBook, start Vienna that fetch my xml feeds & finding your post about it.

  3. Wouldn’t it be nice if they kept a lot of these car restrictions in effect after the strike’s over? If the city can be this peaceful, even when there’s no subways or buses, imagine how nice it’d be if transit was working too. (Although I think some of the “quiet” was due to a lack of rumbling from below.) One more step towards a car-less city, and if any city can do it, it’s Manhattan.

  4. I didn’t want to sound too lefty or radical or whatever, but that’s what I was thinking exactly. A dramatic decrease in car traffic — if it can be balanced with improved support for business services into, within and out of the city — would have a correspondingly dramatic improvement in quality of life. I’d like to see it happen.

  5. Currently, the most popular tags on flickr all have to do with the strike. I’ll have to have a look over them tomorrow (right now it’s past bed-time).

  6. I noticed this too. Strangely enough, constant bumper to bumper traffic is quieter than fast paced normal day traffic.

    My question is this — what’s up with the train sounds coming from underground? I *definitely* heard subway car noises coming from the 4/5/6 line on the UES last night. Maybe they’re moving the trains around to have them in the right places for if/when the strike ends … but in that case, WHO IS MOVING THEM?!

  7. Part of the strike plan is, I believe, a skeleton crew of union workers who have agreed to stay on the job to maintain the system — so there are actually working trains when they return to work. One of that crew’s tasks is to continue to run trains occassionally on the rails to prevent rust and other weathering that would otherwise result from disuse.

  8. I believe it also has to do with keeping the third rail functioning properly. I’m not privy to any of the technical details as to why, but apparently the electrical system is painfully difficult to start back up once it’s been fully shut down. I remember it took at least 8+ hours to start the system back up after the blackout in 2003 had ended.

  9. I would imagine the long startup time stems from the fact that the system is rather old, and not probably intended to be shut down. When you keep piling things on top of that, it tends to get rather messy, as I’m sure you can imagine.

  10. I myself live about 30 minutes away from New York City and have yet to experience the result of this strike, yet from what my father has repored he also deems it rather…pleasant.

  11. I was hoping for something more conspiratorial, but I suppose “skeleton crew ready to start running trains again when the strike ends” is reasonable.

    In fact, that’s an ideal position to be in, isn’t it?… You still get paid (I assume) to run the trains, you don’t have to deal with subway riders all day, and you reap the benefits the strike might yield without having assumed the risks of striking.

    So the question is whether the skeleton crew workers are looked upon poorly for not striking, or favorably for being geniuses who realize these things.

  12. I don’t really get it…
    Whenever public transport in Belgium goes on strike, we get massive traffic-jams on all major roads.
    Yet you get far less traffic.
    Must be something in the food 😉


  13. Actually, I wrote this post on the morning of the first day of the strike. Since then, I’ve seen that traffic has snarled in the afternoons, especially along the major avenues running north and south. So, basically, I was wrong about this strike having a silver lining. Hmpf.

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