Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Long Rush Hour

I think New York City may have one of the longer rush hours in the world. Today was Friday and I happened to be heading into work rather early, a little before 7 AM. I actually could not get a seat on the subway initially when I got on at 72nd Street, and when it was time for everyone to board the 7:30 Staten Island Ferry, I was genuinely surprised to see the pretty significant swarm of people who huddled together at the ferry's narrow entrance.

Now, the reason I mention my experience today is that other times when I head into work at, say, 8 or 9 or even 10, I not only can't get a seat on the subway, I'm lucky if I can find standing room, and occasionally I have to let at least one packed train go by before I can even take my privileged place as a proud but exceedingly cramped standee. Similarly, as the day goes on, the ferry increasingly bulges with the people who want to get to the other side. Admittedly, this is complicated by the tourists who just want to ride the ferry for free, especially on a nice day, but you can pretty well differentiate between the commuters and the joyriders, and take it from me, the number of commuters, especially coming from the Staten Island side to Manhattan. goes well in to the many hundreds as the morning progresses.

So do the math. The trains and roadways and ferries are pretty busy by 7, jammed by 8, bursting at the seams by 9, and still jammed at 10 or 10:30. That's a three and a half hour rush hour, and who knows, maybe if I got my butt out the door by 6:30 occasionally, I'd learn that all this insanity starts well before 7. I don't plan to test this out any time soon, but it is intriguing to observe how our so-called rush has expanded over the years from a literal hour to two or three hours and even more. Hardly surprising in a country that is now well over 300 million people but still a bit disconcerting to consider that what was once a rush hour has become much closer to a way of life that simply never lets up.

No comments:

Post a Comment