Photos: A snowy morning commute

Ah, yes – another bit of snow. Except this time I was actually able to go out and take a few photos of trains in the snow. Hopefully this snow will not be nearly as bad as the previous blizzard, but it is always good to look at Metro-North’s Guide to Winter Weather just in case. And yes, this time that link as serious – as opposed to my completely fake Preparedness Posters I posted the other day.

  
 
  
  
 
   

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Taking Metro-North to Westchester airport

Maybe you’re looking to get away from the city a bit… so you look for some cheap flights online. And surprise! You see something at Westchester airport (HPN). Last year I noticed just that. I would have assumed a flight from a bigger airport would be cheaper, but heading to Florida from Westchester airport was actually about $30 cheaper. The problem was then, how do I get to the airport? Is taking public transportation difficult?

The answer is no, it is not difficult to get to the airport. Unfortunately it is a little harder than it once was. There used to be a bus that went directly from White Plains train station to the airport, but in February 2010 this bus was cancelled. You may still see information about this bus, it was called Airlink. The train station still stocked Airlink brochures, and nobody has updated the airport’s website. This bus does not run any more! But that doesn’t mean you can’t get to the airport from the train station!

What it does mean is you will have to walk across the street to get an alternate bus. Right across from the train station is the White Plains bus center, and from there you can board a bus which will take you right to the airport. You will need to have exact change in quarters ($2.25), or a MetroCard. If you’d prefer the MetroCard route you can purchase them from Waxman’s News in the lower level of the train station.

Sometimes there are express buses, and other times you may need to make a transfer. You can use the online trip planner to see what bus you need to take for your date and time. For the origin put Railroad Station: White Plains Railroad Station and for the destination Airport: Westchester County Airport.

Entering your date and time should be self explanatory. Once you’ve done that, click Get Trip Plan, and it will list the bus or buses you will need to take, how long it will take, and what the fare will be.

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: White Plains

It isn’t hard to take a guess as to which train station in the Metro-North system is the most used. Although Grand Central receives the most traffic, White Plains is the second most used station – for the Harlem Line and Metro-North as a whole. It is the station to which I head every morning and evening. It is almost a microcosm of commuter culture. Large enough to have a steady stream of unknown faces, but small enough for there to be “regulars” – the folks you see every day. And there certainly are some crazy ones. But there are nice ones too. Falling into that category is Gary Waxman, who operates the news stand in the station. Although he has a few people help him out, Gary is at the new stand almost every day and night, certainly a fixture in the local culture. People from all over converge at this location, whether it be for the trains, or the buses across the street. Westchester’s Bee-Line, CT Transit’s I-Bus, as well as Greyhound all stop there.

White Plains may not be the prettiest station – it has no Arts for Transit pieces, the bathrooms are absolutely horrible, and there are pigeons everywhere – but it feels a little bit like my other home. For those descending south from the upper Harlem Line, it is your first taste of the city, and of the big buildings to come. Alliance Bernstein has a large building that overlooks the station, and is visible from the platform. But as my friend would put it, everything north of here is “the bush”. Gradually turning more rural the further north you go, the land opens up into into large farms and rolling green hillsides, the Harlem Valley (Named for the railroad, of course).

White Plains is an important transportation hub of the Harlem Line. Almost all trains stop at here – every local, and even most expresses make the stop. It is a common place to have to change trains, switching from express to local, though most people don’t have to. Along with North White Plains, the station forms a dividing line between the local trains that service the Bronx and lower Westchester, and the locals that serve upper Westchester and Putnam counties.

Unlike most stations that I take a short visit to, I spend a lot of time at White Plains. Although most times I don’t really feel like taking photos, I do have a lot more than the other stations. And definitely more panoramas. I picked a bunch that I liked best. I must admit that my new favorite vantage point is the upper walkway over the track that leads to the parking garage. Except for the fact that there are security cameras everywhere. I am expecting that one day I’m going to get apprehended by cops for being a photo taking terrorist. In reality I am just a dork that is going to every station on the Harlem Line.








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AirLink to Westchester Airport Axed

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Monday the 15th brings some service changes to the Bee Line Bus system in Westchester, one of them being the elimination of the AirLink route to Westchester Airport. Every morning after arriving at the train station in White Plains, I always saw the AirLink bus pull in. I don’t think I ever saw a single person get on that bus. Perhaps I was just there at an early time which no one rode, but if that was the typical amount of riders, I can understand why the route was cut.

I only took the AirLink once, which was back in September, when I had a flight out of Westchester Airport to Orlando. Picking the bus up right in front of the train station is quite convenient. Plus the ride only took around twenty minutes. You’ll still be able to take the bus to the airport (route #12), but you’ll have to catch the bus a block away from the train station, and it will take a bit longer. And, depending on the time, you might have to transfer. If you are lucky enough to catch a direct bus, the travel time will double to around 40 minutes. If you get stuck making the transfer, travel time will triple and will be a little over an hour. If you need to figure out how to get to the airport, you can use the Bee Line’s Trip Planner.

In addition to the AirLink elimination, several other bus routes will be having some changes, so if you are a Bee Line rider, I suggest you look at their Route Changes page.

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Construction at Goldens Bridge, New Transit Museum Exhibit

Good afternoon from high in the sky… I’m currently on a flight headed for Orlando, and I figured while I have some wi-fi and nothing else better to do, I’d make a post before the blog goes on a temporary vacation hiatus. I happened to take public transportation to Westchester airport, I’d actually never been on a Bee Line Bus before. I do have to say that is probably the most comfy public bus I’ve ever been on in my entire life.

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Hey guys, I’m workin’ here!

In order to get to the bus, I took the train down to White Plains from Goldens Bridge. I’m not exactly sure what kind of work is going on there, but there were several trucks and such doing some construction work at the station. I will honestly admit to you right now that I did not know that trucks that can ride also on the rails even existed. Then I saw a yellow pick-up truck fly right past me as I was waiting on the platform. It was too fast for me to snap a picture of, but apparently these larger trucks that were also there have little track wheels that can pop down and allow it to ride the rails.
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Considering my exceptional ability to encounter drunk and crazy people, a delightfully intoxicated young man kept asking me when the train to New York was coming, his words incredibly slurred. He then walked back and forth up the platform a few times, impossible to walk in a straight line. As he wandered perilously close to the edge of the platform, it started a conversation about who would jump down and rescue him if he happened to fall off. Great. Finally he collapsed against the wall, and thankfully didn’t fall off the edge of anything.
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In other news, the New York Transit Museum looks like they are going to be having an interesting new exhibit. I happened to make a post earlier in the week about some of my issues with the museum, all of which have been resolved. I’m not one for censorship, including self-censorship, and originally I had edited my post. Finally I decided it best to remove it altogether. The entire situation did allow me to learn a little bit more about the museum, most notably about their new exhibit: THE LAST DAY OF THE MYRTLE AVENUE EL: Photographs by Theresa King

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Opening in 1888, the Myrtle Avenue el ran from downtown Brooklyn to Queens, passing through Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Ridgewood, and Middle Village. After eighty years, to the dismay of many passengers, the Myrtle Avenue el closed in 1969 and was demolished the following year. Yet, in the mid-20th century, the el’s wooden train cars and antiquated stations still held fond memories for riders who grew up in those neighborhoods.

THE LAST DAY OF THE MYRTLE AVENUE EL: Photographs by Theresa King is a photo essay shot in a single day forty years ago. The photographer recalls, “At midnight on October 3, 1969 over a thousand people eagerly awaited a train – not just any train, but the final train to run on Brooklyn’s Myrtle Avenue elevated line. These people were taking the last ride on this historic elevated train. As soon as they crammed on, the train rolled along from Brooklyn’s Jay Street station to the Metropolitan Avenue station in Queens. At the end of this sad journey, some passengers took artifacts to remember this very special old timer and bid a fond farewell. The pictures were taken during this last day at various stations along the Myrtle Avenue el in Brooklyn. During my childhood, I rode this train daily and loved the look of the station stops and the train itself. When I realized the line was due for demolition, I wanted to document a part of Brooklyn’s past that would be no more.”

The exhibit will run from September 29, 2009 – February 28, 2010 at the Transit Museum.

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The morning of silence… and no crazies to be seen.

This morning I arrived into White Plains train station and was surprised to note the downstairs benches were completely empty. Many times I find myself at this spot looking for an open spot, only to find the seats completely full. Or other times there are a few empty seats… but empty for a reason. People generally like to keep a distance from the station crazies… the winter coat man has been around frequently this week (despite some of the days being quite warm), deeply engrossed in conversation with himself. But not even he was around today. Complete emptyness. I wondered if today had been a holiday I was unaware of, and nobody had work…

Though I soon learned the lack of people was due to train delays… the delay announcer was stuck on permanent loop, reading the name of every train coming northbound from Grand Central. According to the radio on the bus, a train got stuck at Scarsdale station… and according to my friend who was apparently on that train, the first two cars actually had smoke in them. She showed up to work rather late and a bit dishevelled, and talked a bit about angry passengers demanding refunds. Didn’t hear much else other than that though… but hey, I’m not complaining. At least *I* had some peace and quiet :D

In other news, the campaign of passenger passive aggressiveness continues, and today we were rewarded with angry mumbling of “this is outrageous!” in addition to the normal angry glares. This situation will likely resolve itself in one of several ways… 1.) The lady drives her car to work, 2.) The lady takes the number six to work, 3.) The lady complains to the bus company about the passengers being assholes to her. Hmm, I have a feeling it will be number three. And of course the bus company would be too nice to reply to her and say, well stop being an asshole to the bus driver!

Before I go, one more additional observation… fried chicken may not be the best meal to eat on the train. Yes, I do get rather annoyed when people leave their food trash on the trains, you COULD just take it with you when you get off and throw it in the trash… but come on, ziploc bags full of your picked clean fried chicken bones? That is just nasty.

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Pigeons: 1, Humans: 1

At one point during the colder months I began to keep score with the pigeons. Quite a few places have structures to deter pigeons and other birds from building nests. On the covered entrance portion of the White Plains station, there are metallic looking spikes that serve this purpose. But the pigeons have maneuvered through them and began nesting anyways. While waiting for my bus in the icy rain, I saw a pigeon fly to a nearby bush, break off a twig, secure that twig in its beak, and then fly back to the nest. This pigeon could have won prizes for endurance. I seriously saw him do this about a million times, and he was still doing it while I got on the bus. For outsmarting the humans who tried to deter birds from building a nest? Pigeons: 1, Humans: 0.

The next day, I found myself sitting on the shuttle looking out the window. Recalling the previous day’s pigeon outsmarting humans event, I noticed that the humans had tied the game. A pigeon had gotten run over by a Bee Line bus… with wings completely outstreched, desperately trying to make it away in time. Failing. And becoming a pigeon pancake.

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