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.
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.
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.