Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Fordham

Another Tuesday, another Harlem Line station… I was a bit behind today, and I am glad I was able to keep up with the schedule, hehe. I’ve been hard at work with some new things for the site, which unfortunately requires me to draw a bit, and although my shoulder is feeling better, it was hurting after drawing too long. When I went for therapy I told this to my doctor… and he looked at me like I grew two heads. “A tablet what?” Later on he advised me to “not draw too much on your scrabble board.” I suppose he’d shit a brick if he saw a person walk in with an iPad. In other news I’ve upped the security on commenting here. I’ve gotten a bit fed up with thousands of spam comments a week, even though they go into a spam folder and don’t actually get posted. The additional spam blocker I’ve added (that prevents spam from ever getting submitted) warned me that there may be false positives. So if you ever make a comment that doesn’t get through, please let me know. Despite the fact that I really didn’t want to, I’ve also closed comments on articles more than 2 months old, which cut down on a lot of the spam.

Anyways, back to Fordham. Besides Harlem-125th Street, Fordham is one of the other Harlem Line stations that is shared. Both Harlem Line and New Haven Line trains stop here, and it is one of Metro-North’s busier stations. Much of the ridership at Fordham is made up of reverse commuters: folks that leave the city and head to jobs in Westchester and Connecticut. Over 6,000 reverse commuters head north on week days. The station itself is located below street level, with a portion of the platform being covered by the road above. Although it does have a ticket window and a small waiting room, I didn’t get too many photos since it was under construction when I visited. Construction on the platform will also be happening soon, as it was announced in July that Metro-North had purchased additional land to extend the platform, and a new canopy and shelter will be built.

Within close proximity to the station is Fordham University, as well as many shops. The station also serves as Metro North’s access point to the Bronx Zoo, as you can take a bus from the station to the zoo. Other than that, Fordham is not the most remarkable station… but here are some photos, enjoy!


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The Transit Museum’s Bus Festival is this Sunday

Photos from last year’s Bus Festival

Although the Transit Museum in Brooklyn is known for its collection of subway cars, it also has quite a collection of historical buses as well. Every year the museum has a Bus Festival to show off that collection, in conjunction with the Atlantic Antic, Brooklyn’s largest street fair. Admission to the event is completely free to see the buses and the museum. The festival runs from 10 AM until 6 PM this Sunday. I won’t be attending this year, but last year’s festival was really great and I highly recommend it!

For more information, check out the Museum’s Calendar page.

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White Plains, Level 8, My new favorite place

Despite the fact that I started this blog to talk about all the crazy people I see on the train, I don’t really do it all that often anymore. But that is not to say I still don’t see crazy people. The coat guy is still around in White Plains, sporting his new favorite accessory: a big red cowboy hat. I rode in this morning with a skinny guy that dreams of being a bodybuilder. He had about ten bags, along with a few magazines that had photos of greased up men with muscles so enormous they must be taking steroids. The seat next to him he used as a table, as he buttered his bagel and mixed up his protein shake with the cup of milk he purchased from Starbucks. Bag Lady still rides the shuttle bus, as does the whiny girl that moans in some foreign language on her cell the entire ride. Yesterday I had to sit through the entire shuttle ride listening to her whine – she does not talk, she whines – and she continued to do so in the waiting room of the train station. I couldn’t stand to hear it anymore, so I went exploring.

There aren’t too many places in the White Plains train station I’ve never been. But I figured, why the hell not, I’ll go to the top of the parking garage. Up at the 8th level you can look down at the city of White Plains, listen to the rumble of the diesel engines as they head to Wassaic, and hear the whine of the M7 as it brakes and stops. And besides all the bits of trash (used condoms, eew) it is actually kinda nice up there. And quite peaceful, since I never seem to see anybody up there. Anyways, here are some photos of the view, morning and evening.

You know, the only thing I’m afraid of now is that someone is going to see me up there looking down and think I want to jump. Thats the last thing I need – cops coming after me. With all the stories I hear about photographers getting arrested and such for taking pictures, I really have a fear of the police, and I don’t trust them one bit.

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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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The Attempted Hijacking of Bus 702

This morning marked the arrival of our new shuttle bus. Within minutes of waiting, however, it seemed as though we were about to get hijacked by a masked man. Upon further scrutiny it seemed as though we were mistaken: it was just another passenger waiting out in the bitter cold for a bus that was going to be late. Typical.

Though the new bus is nice, I must admit. It turns out that the robot man is not our driver, it is some other guy. And we thought the robot drove slow, this as yet un-nicknamed fellow is even slower. Even poor bag lady missed her train (boo hoo). Just the part that the bus no longer picks us up in front of the train station isn’t the most fun. At least there you could wait in the vestibule, which is at times warmer even than the waiting room. Now we get picked up across the street by the Greyhound stop, and thus have no warm place to wait. (and now I deserve a good sarcastic boo hoo for myself).

Another side effect of the cold weather is that the pigeons begin to sneak inside the train station. I had been wondering where they were for a month or so now. Most people think pigeons are dumb, but they have to have some smarts to know they’d rather be inside than out in the cold, and practice amusing methods of getting in. I hadn’t seen any of them inside until today. A pigeon tore through the upstairs waiting room earlier this evening, flying over the people waiting for their (late) trains. Just in general freaking people out. Terrorizing the train riders, though today nobody ran off screaming. One of these times I need to capture that on video.

After writing all of this, it seems that everything is pretty normal over in White Plains. But on the home front, Goldens Bridge, it seems that everything is not. Here we don’t have pigeons, but people terrorizing the station. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the obnoxious area skater kids, drunk on a weekend with nothing else better to do. They’re probably the ones to blame for the graffiti I mentioned before (and some new graffiti that appeared this afternoon), but maybe not for the weekend’s escapade of kicking in all the glass panels on all the doors of the south side vestibule. Maybe it was creepy, perpetually drunk Santa Claus. Who knows? Though, uhh, Metro-North? I can live with the fact that you never wash the windows. I suppose I will live, albeit a little frustrated, when you don’t clean up the graffiti. But umm… will you at least fix the glass? Is this train station even safe? Should I be carrying mace around on my keychain?

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It’s Wednesday… Let the Crazy People Run FREE!

Did someone let the nutter bus loose today? Was the local asylum giving out day passes? We had some delightful numbskulls today getting in fights on speakerphone in the waiting room, and an amusing man wearing a New York Times badge that was having difficulty hearing on his phone. Of course when you have difficulty hearing, the only solution is to stick your finger in your ear, find the nearest corner, and go stand facing the corner while resting your head against the wall for support. Can you hear me now?

I like to read and mumble. And then get on my speaker phone and get into arguments, which I am sure everyone loves to hear!

I can’t stand some people’s UGGly boots, but there are some that just make no sense to me at all. These boots are so hairy it looks like an old, brown poodle died on each of your feet.

Every time Santa Claus Man treks up the stairs at Goldens Bridge, he thinks in his mind, ‘I can reach the unreachable star!’ because just going up a flight of stairs when you are that drunk might as well be climbing Mount Everest.

Ah, good old Sleeper Kid. I have to give him credit, at least he isn’t trying to eat and sleep at the same time any more.

I have no pictures for this one, so instead, I will leave you with a story:
This week marks the return of this rather large and obnoxious woman. She rode the shuttle bus last year, and then all of a sudden disappeared. Honestly, I had hoped she got fired. I guess she didn’t, because now she is back. Maybe she just rides the bus in the winter for some odd reason. I don’t really know. Either way, she is dead set about being the first person to get on the bus. She can and will push aside any other person in her way to be the first person on the bus. As witnessed this evening, if she is sitting in a seat and there is another open seat right next to her, her fat ass is not moving an inch. Our building complex now has two shuttle buses, but for the longest time we had only one. Before we got the second bus, extra people would have to stand in the aisles if there were not enough seats. Now that we have two buses, people that don’t fit in the seats on the first bus are required to wait five minutes or so for the other bus to come around. Tonight there was an extra seat on our bus, but because fat ass didn’t want to move her butt, that person had to stand in the bitter cold until the other bus came around. And then she had the audacity to laugh about how cold it was outside, and that she couldn’t have waited another minute out there. When someone said to her that there was one more seat, she said, “Who gon’ fit dere?” If someone can’t fit there next to your fat butt, maybe that is your cue to go on a diet? For the record, as I am sure I will get a flame from someone about that, I do not have a problem with fat people, but I do have a problem with assholes.

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Living it up on the Subway, & Westchester’s Ads Amuse Me

Some people can’t stand riding on the subway… the massive crowds, the oppressively hot temperature, the noise, the rats… There’s a lot of potential stuff to dislike. However, some people like the trains so much that they ride them continuously. For eleven days. Apparently that is what happened with a thirteen-year-old boy named Francisco Hernandez Jr, a story that was published yesterday in the NY Daily News. Francisco was missing from his home for eleven days. And he was found at the Stillwell Avenue subway station, after “losing track of time” and riding the F, D and 1 trains. Did I mention he did this for ELEVEN DAYS? He also survived that entire time by eating junk food he bought with the ten dollars in his pocket. Where the heck can you purchase ANY food in the city for under one dollar per day?? Plus, the kid isn’t dumb. He didn’t want to be found, so he removed the battery from his cell phone so he couldn’t be tracked or called. Next time you ride the subway though, and you’re thinking how much you hate it, imagine living there.

In other news, the ads that Westchester County does for the train and bus stations make me laugh. They are so remarkably corny. Maybe the messages that they are trying to get across are valid: Feces and Phosphorus aren’t really that great in our reservoirs, but “Scoop the Poop” and “Don’t ‘P’ on Your Lawn” coupled with the incredibly lame people they have pictured, always makes me laugh.
For example, here is the Phosphorus poster:

Really, can you take that man seriously? Just look at the expression on his face! It looks like someone forgot to heed the previous ad, didn’t scoop their dog’s poop, and he stepped in it. While wearing new shoes. And he’s about to cry.

Here is a bonus closeup

Another ad I’ve been seeing a bunch recently on the train is this one about talking to your children about alcohol. They’ve just taken a stock photo of a young girl, telling us that she will have her first drink at age 14. I always wonder about people that are in ads like this one. For example, the woman in the genital herpes commercial that has to say, “I have genital herpes!” How desperate did that actress have to be in order to take that job? Does she get recognized as the “genital herpes lady”? Well, at least that was her decision to be in that commercial. Unfortunately this child had no choice. She was whored out as a stock photo child by her parents. Will friends at school recognize her as the “future alcoholic” from the ad? Perhaps my brain is just messed up from going through mountains of stock photography at work… It does get depressing when you start seeing these stock children all over and you recognize them!

The embarrassment of being in this advertisement may actually lead little Sarah to a life of alcoholism…

Plus this girl looks a lot like the poor Child Abuse flyer kid.
She’s an alcoholic and was abused when she was younger!

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Radio Repairman Returns! And a bunch of random memories…

The other day I caught sight of the amusing radio repairman that I dubbed Bob in a previous entry… he was carrying a plate of food, and thankfully didn’t get into any awkward conversations with anyone. He did get up and go to the little conductor vestibule, and got on his hands and knees and looked under the door, and through the window in order to see if anyone was in there. Alas, nobody was. He returned to his seat, shouted out “Mount Kisco!” for no apparent reason a few times, and then got off the train.

Here are a bunch of other random memories that have come to mind recently… some are new and some are old!

While eating lunch at a place across the street from the Valhalla train station, I heard a trio of blondes get into a very heated discussion about dog food.
“You can’t buy your dog Kibbles and Bits, it is BAD!”
“What do you mean, BAD?”
“It is just bad, Iams is better. You get it from the pet store.”
“But why is Iams better?”
“Well, the lady said that giving your dog Kibbles and Bits, is like eating at MCDONALD’S every day! It is FAST FOOD for dogs!”
“Oh, well I wish they would write that on the label then!”

I also kind of hate to admit it, but there are often some “racist incidents” that happen on the train. While walking to the Brewster train station, I stood in the crosswalk waiting for the cars to go by. It is starting to get warmer, so people have their windows down… and the man shouted out the window at me, “I’ll only stop for you because you’re a white girl!” If you’ve ever been to Brewster, you might have an idea of why this disgruntled man made this comment.

A recent article I read talks about convicts traveling by Greyhound bus. I’ve certainly commented about that in this blog. Greyhound feigns ignorance, but I could have told them that ages ago after taking a 30 day cross country trip via Greyhound. Many people talked about being in prison, leaving prison, etc. Now if it were me, I wouldn’t be telling a bunch of random people on the bus about being a felon or anything like that. So you must imagine for each person that told everyone about their criminal past, there might have been quite a few others keeping their mouths shut!

Don’t get lost in Boston. The cops you might ask for directions from aren’t the most helpful. While traveling with several other girls, we were looking for a place on Channel St. The policeman we asked made it a point to inform us that we were stupid girls and that we were looking for “CHANNEL and not CHANEL.” Yes, because Chanel is ALL we think about.

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Another Weirdo, Another Taxi, and old Greyhound Stories

Coming down the steps from the platform this morning at White Plains, I saw some rather odd guy running around wrapped in a white bed comforter… hmm, is it nappy time? Perhaps another homeless guy I don’t recall seeing before… but it did look like it was a nice comforter… almost like the down one I have on my own bed. Hmm…

In other news, there is yet another White Plains taxi driver that isn’t trying very hard… Here is another artist rendition. Yeah, because the first turned out *so* well…

Here are some good past memories of Greyhound, after reminiscing with my friend and travel companion:

  • A man that wanted to give me 20 dollars to see if I could fit in the upper baggage hold of the bus
  • Vitaballs vitamins looking very suspicious on baggage x-rays
  • Taking 20 pounds of cheese from Wisconsin 1100 miles by bus
  • Getting soaked in a rainstorm because the skylight window on the bus would not close.
  • Getting hit on by a guy at the Atlanta bus station at 3am while eating icecream, and telling him we forgot our names.
  • Females flashing other passengers… then giving said passengers their “business card”
  • Getting kicked off the city bus in Las Vegas, because we asked the driver directions, and he said he was not an information booth
  • Almost getting kicked out of Canada because we wanted to get our passports stamped, apparently that desire makes them want to investigate you further… so we got detained. And my friend joked around when they asked her how much money she had, and said “a dollar.” Let’s just say the woman who detained us didn’t find this very amusing.
  • Shopkeeper in Wisconsin convincing my friend and I to buy cheese hats… We said that we would have no place to put them in our baggage, and she suggested we wear them on the bus, and told us of a man that was in a plane crash and was protected by his cheese hat, which he couldn’t fit in his luggage. Research into this subject proves that it is for the most part true, though the man was a pilot of a small plane and was not on a commercial aircraft.
  • A man with many face piercings bleeding profusely all over himself, and the bus.
  • A drug addict that lost his bag of drugs…
  • Does Greyhound even sell 30 day bus passes any more???

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