Category Archives: on the train

Stuck between a rock

…and a hard place, I guess.  

Started a new commute to downtown a few weeks ago and I’m still trying to get a hang of it. My body isn’t in auto-pilot yet and worst of all, I’m not that familiar with the new train schedules. Which brings me to the hard place. 

The train schedule said that I could catch the 8:20 from HOB but I would have to transfer at SEC and wait 14 mins for a train to Bloomfield. Total travel time = 43 mins and arrive at 9:03. OR wait for the 8:58 direct train from HOB to Bloomfield. Total travel time = 24 mins and arrive at 9:22. 

I either wait at HOB or SEC. 6 and 1/2 dozen, right? I figured it would be better to get home a little earlier so I opted for the 8:20 via SEC. 

I was enjoying my commute (and even had a sec to take this elevator vid below) until I tried scanning my monthly ticket at the turnstiles. Errrr. Errrrrrrr. Errrrrrr. Nothing. Tried it again and still nothing. Luckily, Customer Service was right there. 

Went up to the window and the guy told me that I had to buy a one-way ticket to NWK because I opted for the “cheaper” ticket. (I didn’t know there was a “cheaper” option!) I felt totally deflated! My monthly ticket that I pay good money for only works if I take a DIRECT train from HOB. No transfer. No nothin. Arg. 

So on top of opting for the LONGER commute (because it got me home 19 mins earlier!) I had to shell out an extra $4.25! 

So here’s what I learned from tonight’s commute:

• Even though a ticket to HOB is cheaper than a ticket to NYP, there’s very limited service, especially after 6:30pm. 
• If you buy a ticket to HOB “via Newark”, it’s not valid for any trains “via Secaucus”

• Always opt for the direct service and shorter commute time!


Seat savers

How do you feel about saving seats on a very crowded morning train? I’m not sure how I feel about it. Normally, it’s fine if there are plenty ‘o seats but when there are only middle seats left on the 8:27 and its snowing out and you’re cranky from not getting enough sleep from the night before, right now I’m NOT loving the person that just told me I couldn’t have that empty seat because he was saving it for a friend (who was supposedly “right behind me”). I just walked away and muttered under my breath, “Really?” and took a middle seat. Boo.

But do I have dibs on that seat because I was there first? I mean, I got to the train doors first and boarded first so should I be cranky because I didn’t get that seat? Or should I just relax and be fine squished in my middle seat? Each seat costs $6.25 but you should get a discount for the middle seats especially if you get stuck next to someone that insists on conducting business on the phone first thing!

Be a Clever Commuter!

This network of commuters has saved me so many times on my crappy commute so I just wanted to pass the word on about Clever Commute. A message from Conductor Josh:

Help Clever Commute grow. I don’t mean “a little.” I mean “a step change” 
After almost 6 years at the helm, I have clarity on things. If we want Clever Commute to be BETTER, it HAS to be BIGGER.

I know because I see the membership and message volumes on each and every line (yes…nationwide).
Sure…we could build a cool iPhone app
Sure…we could give you dynamic re-routing of your commute when things go bad.
Sure…there are dozens of things we could do.

BUT: In all likelihood, less than 10% of the people on your line are signed up…and that’s the part that kills me (and you). 

Please: Don’t you worry about “too many people” = “too much mail”. We HAVE the technology in place to manage the flow/volume.

Remember: Clever Commute grew from a network of 4 (Hi Jim, Barry, and Steve) into 20,000 because people told each other about it.
There are millions of commuters out there…and I simply won’t accept “growing well”. We need to get big. I mean REALLY big…and the time is NOW.

Want a peek into how it could be? Check out this “Clever” RSS feed from the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor line:
The “NEC” is the largest commuter rail line in North America. Those passengers are doing a FANTASTIC job of collaborating and sharing.
But…we could easily absorb tens of thousands of new riders on that line alone.

Yes…I am energized…I am breathing fire. The Clever Commute model is proven…the technology is industrial scale and built to handle the volume.

It’s entirely possible that I will not be able to continue with the current operating model unless we collaborate to take it to the next level with a “step change” 
Your financial donations help…but I need EACH and EVERY one of you to send a note to ALL of the people you know who commute.
Tell them “this works…get on-board”. Tell them “Go to and pick ‘Find your line'”

It’s time, people. It’s time.


— Conductor Josh



Not cool

My friend and fellow commuter, Melanie, just posted this on FB:

“Great way to start the morning commute: staring at a photo of a bombed-out train. Thanks NJT.”

Exactly. Thanks NJT for the very disturbing visual!

A good spot

No seats on the delayed 8:27 so I’m stuck in the middle of a 3-seater. Guess it’s better than standing, but is it really? You have to sit with your elbows tucked in the whole time, trying not to have any of your body parts touch the 2 people on either side of you. Of course, I get an ass next to me that insists on spreading his knees out as far as possible so I can feel his body heat emitting from his thigh. Ew.

I feel like finding a “good” spot in the middle of a 3-seater is like finding a good parking spot at the mall…

You drive down the aisle hoping there’s a good space open. Ooh, there’s a spot! Damn, there’s 2 large SUVs parked on either side and of course, one if them is parked too close to the open spot that you want. You don’t want to park there because when their doors swing open, it’s bound to slam into your car. So you keep driving. Ooh, there’s another one up ahead. Too late. Another car driving down in the opposite direction snagged it from you. Damn, that was a good one too. There was a Mini and a Prius parked on either side of that spot!

So you keep driving. And you finally find a spot waaaay out in the parking lot, away from everything and in between a minivan and an Corolla. Hey, at least you found a spot!

Man down!

Wow, I thought I’d never see it, but some guy fell in between the gap and platform coming off the 7:51 to Penn just now. We were all deboarding, the conductor said, “Watch your step” as the doors open and a second later, I look down and there was a guy in the space between the train and the platform! I saw his dropped iPhone on the ground next to his head and all I could think of was, “Save the iPhone!!!”. Nice, right?

Luckily, the conductors helped him out and he seemed unscathed save for being slightly red-faced from the embarrassment. What a start to the day!

Portrait of the 9:32p

Here’s a picture of my westbound commute…

Starts off at Columbus Circle/59th St. station

An empty downtown 1 train

Passengers getting on at 50th St.

At my stop, watching the downtown 1 pulling away

Penn Station

Staircase where the Jersey-bound crowd usually bottlenecks. And it usually smells like urine.

Turnstiles to Penn

The monitor that everyone crowds around that announces the tracks that your train is departing from

Corridor to the NJTransit and LIRR trains. A homeless guy is usually sitting there playing his recorder. My favorite is when he plays the theme to the Addams Family.

Crowd waiting for their westbound trains

Boarding Track 2

Waiting for the 9:32 to fill up

Conductor waiting to pull into Blooomfield

Getting off the train at Bloomfield Station

Watching the train pull away

Me and my shadow waiting for the hubby to pick me up at 10:02pm. As always, he's late. I always tell him that I feel like the last kid to be picked up from school!