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CJ experience: New York transit strike

With busses and subways stopped, readers share their commuting struggles

With all New York City MTA busses and subways out of service because of a labor dispute, MSNBC readers shared their commuting stories and frustrations:

Name: Sandra Barrera
Hometown: New York, NY

I live on the Upper West Side and I had to walk from 88th and Broadway all the way to 40th and Park.  It would have been better would the weather have been warmer but all in all it was OK, easier than hailing a cab with 2 or 3 people.  Taxi drivers were being mean and uncooperative along the way.

Name: Elizabeth Robles
Hometown: Woodhaven, New York

I don't live in Manhattan, but I live in Queens and my life is revolved in Brooklyn.  Everything I do is at least a one hour's ride on the trains.  I am a 19-year-old sophomore that goes to Brooklyn College and today, December 20th, I had to take 2 finals, and tomorrow I have to take another...but because this strike is going on, I can't take them.  These finals have been pushed back to January 3rd for many students other than myself.  This makes it difficult for me because I am taking winter intersession courses starting January 3rd.  Also, I can't even go to work, because I have no money watsoever to afford any type of car service.  It is extremely difficult to commute when you don't have a car and rely on the NY transit system as your main source of transportation, but I understand completely why they are doing this.  I believe that the MTA is not greedy, but stupid.  Instead of giving it to their workers, who work hard for that company, they decided to give away free rides to their riders (none of which I have seen yet).  The MTA doesn't think that maybe if they had a surplus this year doing what they did, maybe they can do the same thing next year and have a surplus as well?  With surpluses such as these they would be able to afford to pay their workers salaries they deserve.

Name: Karin Curcio
Hometown: Pen Argyl, Pa.
I do not personally live in NYC but my daughter does.  She is a student at NY Law School and was scheduled to take her second exam today which was cancelled because of the strike and now she must take it after the holidays.  She has another one scheduled on Thursday which will also be scheduled after the holidays if the strike is still in effect.  Her 2 week break is now going to be one week because she has to return early to prepare AGAIN for these exams. Believe me, in Law School this is a huge deal..preparing and not taking the exam!!!  Let's just say none of us are happy and she certainly isn't.

Name: Gladys Cedeno
Hometown: Bronx, N.Y.

This morning I went to get the bus, (whoops) so I stop a cab, he was charging me $20.00 from 143st between Willis up to 138st grand concourse at the Bronx.  So this lady, God bless her, stopped because I am a disabled person.  I walk with a cane.  She took me were I was going. Thanks to God.

Name: Andrea
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Today I left with my husband at 6am to take the NY Water Taxi from the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park.  We luckily caught the 6:40 am ferry.  We couldn't believe that there was already a line by the time we got there a little after 6.  People were in good spirits despite the cold and although our commute is now a total nightmare, we will do what we have to do to get to work.  We normally take the bus from our apartment in Park Slope to Atlantic Terminal and then the 4/5 to Grand Central.  Now its a ferry to a cab (if we are lucky) or a long walk to midtown.  The TWU says it wants respect from NYers??  Last time I checked, respect has to be earned.

Name: Drew
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

I live in Bay Ridge in Bklyn.  I drove to Park Slope via 4th avenue, and then when traffic became too congested, I found a spot to park in, got out, bundled up (complete w/ ski goggles and a mask), and proceeded to ride my 11-yr old daughter's scooter over the Manhattan Bridge into Manhattan, up Broadway, then 5th Avenue, all the way to Rockefeller Plaza where I work as an attorney.  Overall, it took about 2.25 hrs. Crazy. :o)

Name: Christina
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Normally, I take the D train from Atlantic Avenue to work in midtown and it takes (maybe) a half-hour.  Today, I altered my schedule to wake up earlier and walk to the LIRR at Flatbush Avenue.  The line of people to get tickets was ridiculously long and I managed to get a conductor to sell me a paper ticket.  Happy that I didn't have to wait on line, I asked the conductor if I should wait anyway to get a ticket from the Jamaica Station to Penn Station and he said not to worry about it - if anything just buy my ticket on the train.  Bad idea.  Arriving at Jamaica with hundreds of other people, we all discovered that you needed a ticket to even get on the platform.  Cops and LIRR workers were all instructing people to get on a line to buy tickets.  This line was about 8 blocks long and started to move by the time I got to the end.  I thought it wouldn't be so bad - until I hit the corner and discovered that the line wrapped up and around another block, and another and another....the wait time was estimated to be over 3 hours to get a ticket.  I gave up and decided to try and get a car in.  I couldn't believe that they didn't have conductors selling tickets to people on that line!  The platform was empty at one point because everyone was on line waiting for a ticket.  There has got to be a better way to handle this.  A livery cab was charging $20 per person to get into Midtown (which is what they're supposed to charge according to the contingency), but that seemed too crazy, so I stayed on the corner with my boyfriend and tried to flag down a car that needed passengers.  Luckily, one came by with three lovely people in it and we all zoomed into the city.  Once on the expressway, it was smooth sailing.  I don't know how I'll get back home, but I think I'll be trying to bike in the freezing cold tomorrow.

Name: Yolanda Reece
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

This morning getting to work was cruel.  I got a cab at the corner of my block in East New York, Brooklyn, the border line of Queens, to go to downtown Brooklyn the cab tried to charge me $25 for a $12 ride.  The cab drivers are really going to make a killing because they know peopl eare trying to get to work and back home.  I hope this strike is over with soon because I honestly cannot afford taxi cabs to go and come.

Name: Terrett Drake
Hometown: New York City

The strike is actually nice for me.  I live at 96th and Columbus and work at 22nd and Broadway.  The train usually takes about 40 mins. door to door.  Today I caught a cab at the police blockade outside my front door and it only cost $10. It usually costs around $15.00. And to top it off, I am able to expense the fare from petty cash at my office. I hope they stay on strike b/c I could get used to this! But serously, the transit workers really need to grow up. This is a multi-million dollar temper tantrum of spoiled children. Toussaint is going to hang for this one. Bloomberg does not mess around and they will all get what they deserve: NOTHING!

Name: Doris Ware
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Hello CJ for me it was not bad my carpool did not make it so I decided to walk got a ride from a lovely couple to downtown Brooklyn from there I walked across the greatest bridge in the world, the Brooklyn Bridge it was fun people taking pictures, newscasters, Brooklyn Boro Pres Marty Markowitz to greet us and cheer all the people on, hope everything works out for the best and we can return to a normal commute.

Name: William Bryk
Hometown: New York, New York

I live at 107th Street and Central Park West.  Instead of taking the C train to Chambers Street, I walked to work via Central Park West, Eighth Avenue, and Hudson Street - eight miles, taking two-and-a-half hours.  Happy Holidays.

Name: Jessica
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Live in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, walked to 52nd and Lex.  Said hello to more people today than I ever have before. New Yorkers really are family.

Name: Annette O'Malley
Hometown: Flint, MI

My son moved to Queens in October, today as I write he has begun a three hour walk from Astoria to the Port Authority bus terminal.  Dragging along his Christmas presents he hopes to make the bus for Michigan at 3:30 p.m.  I am in favor of labor using their power for leverage against management, but this strike at this time was designed to inconvenience all Americans and they shouldn't expect and sympathy from ANYONE!

Name: Nancy Liddane
Hometown: Franklin Park, NJ

I live in NJ & normally take a bus in to Port Authority.  I work on Madison & 26th Street. That was just too long of a walk so I went on NJ Transit.  I'll have to pay $11 per day to park at the train station plus $19 a day for a train ticket.  Even then, it was a long walk on a freezing cold day.  I'm still trying to warm up at Noon!

Name: John Honig
Hometown: Selden, NY

I live on Long Island and had to walk from Penn Station, about 30 - 40 minutes after taking the LIRR.  For me this may be a blessing in disguise.  I need the exersice.  They say that after 15 days of doing something new it becomes a habit, will if this strike continues I may just walk to work everyday.

Name: Christine C. Williams
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

After watching the strike being declared at 3am, and hearing about the madness at the LIRR Jamaica station, I decided to drive in from Crown Heights in Brooklyn.  I picked up my two sisters and started offering people rides on the service roads of Eastern Pkwy.  I had six people in my van when I crossed over the Manhattan Bridge.  It was wonderful to be able to help out my fellow New Yorkers.  I drove amongst the masses of people in mid town and dropped off my passengers along the way.  I was a little disappointed to see many drivers without passengers, and not offering rides to anyone, even when people were knocking on their windows to ask for rides.  I already had a full house but I was willing to pick up more.  I went as far as 42nd St and Lex.  Then returned to 13th St. and 9th to go to work.  Overall it was quite a pleasant journey.  I will do it again on the way home!

Name: Lisa Kaine
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

I live in Fort Green Brooklyn.  I planned on jumping on my bike and riding in this morning ( 45 minute ride to 60th & Madison) but was awakened by my boss who offered a ride into the city.  Stuffed into a Mini, with 5 other riders, we actually made it from the on ramp of the Brooklyn Bridge to 60th St. and Lex. in 10 minutes flat.  I have never, in 13 years of NYC living, made that kind of time on my morning commute!

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