new york city subway

Is the Hassle of Public Transportation Worth It?

By Kasia Broussalian

The subway system of New York City boasts a number of milestones that shine through much of its grime…scurrying rats included.  The city’s rapid transit system is the oldest and most extensive system in the world. Last year alone it carried 1.6 billion riders through 468 stations and across 656 miles of revenue track.  This extensiveness, coupled with a 24-hour service routine, significantly cuts personal energy expense—especially where small geographic location meets an extremely high population density.

Don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of days when I am so exasperated with the system, I could fall to my knees and curse the very men who laid down those tracks in 1904.  There can be delayed trains, service disruptions (meaning no trains are coming), long wait times, and limited communication with the riders. Not to mention the scorching heat , little ventilation, and creeping rats that are enough to make any person think twice before making the perilous MetroCard swipe. There are upsides, though. Apart from the individual incentives; i.e. the no parking fees, no traffic headaches, etc, there are significant big picture contributions. About one-third of the United States’ total carbon emission comes from transportation, and 60 percent of that comes from personal vehicle use. Already, New York City rivals such “green cities” as San Francisco and Portland in terms of personal energy expenditure. The overall factor can be greatly attributed to our love-hate relationship with the subway system.

A few weeks back, I traversed a greater portion of the N train; from the East Village of Manhattan to the last stop at Coney Island. I noticed the traveler pictured above get on midway through my travels, and shortly after (perhaps two or three stops later), he hopped off. At this point I thought, “For all its faults, the subway really is the epitome of ease. Paths just out of walking distance or otherwise insurmountable to pedestrians become accessible and travelers can hop on and off without the hassle, or the pollution, of a car.” Tell us your experiences with the subway, exemplifying both its hassle and its ease.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Time to Recycle, MTA

A woman reaches out for a newspaper in front of the Astor Place Station in the East Village before heading down the stairs for her morning subway commute.

By Donna Somboonlakana

New York City, with its magnificent people, structures and convenient transportation system, is in need of recycling bins for glass, plastic, cans and paper, just about everywhere.  The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has the ultimate opportunity to make significant improvements in the way everyone views and manages the waste we all generate each day by living and working in NYC.  In an effort to create a more pleasant environment for everyone, the MTA could easily reduce enormous amounts of waste, produce green jobs, generate income, and make NYC a more livable city by simply placing recycling bins onto the platforms…what an incredible thought!  So, how can we get the MTA to give us a recycling program?

A recycling program appears to work best when there is a continuous supply of recyclable material.  In 2010, the annual ridership on the NYC subway systems was 1.6 billion people. I say that is a match! I understand that change is a hard thing to do, but sometimes it pays off. I made a simple commuting change when I first began working for EPA 21 years ago which resulted in my saving over $40,000.  Born, raised and still residing in New Rochelle, I used to take Metro North, then take the 4 or 5 subway to work.  Now, I drive only one extra mile to the Bronx, park for free and take the 5 train all the way downtown without having the stress of rushing to catch another train. Sweet. More

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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