A Little Bit Shameless

I am not proud of what I’ve done. I am a law-abiding, honest citizen so it is with a twinge of embarrassment and sadness that I report the very real possibility I am now a wanted woman on several subway lines. My friends: last night I jumped the turnstile.

In my feeble defense I believe this transgression was justified. Was it to help an elderly woman or somehow get a homeless man something to eat? Well not exactly – let me explainI went to a secondary entrance at the Houston Street 1 train station. This is one of the many subway entrances which no longer has MTA employees on duty.

During a recent round of budget cuts the MTA assigned workers to the secondary entrances on a part-time basis. Then they decided we didn’t need employees there at all since you can buy your Metrocard at a kiosk. Before long the MTA booths were removed all together. Now all that’s left at this Houston Street entrance are two turnstiles and a service exit gate which sounds a piercing alarm should you open it to leave with a stroller or large suitcase. (Just like annoying car alarms, people have learned to ignore the noise rendering it completely useless.)

So there was no employee in sight when the 1 train pulled into the station and the disembarking passengers impatiently flooded the turnstiles. I reached for my Metrocard knowing that if I waited for the passengers to file through one by one in order to swipe my card, the train would be gone. Then someone swung the service gate open wide.

The conductor’s announcement could be heard on the platform. “This train is going express.”

I knew what I had to do. I turned into Indiana Jones as I jumped, hurdled and sidestepped by way around the other passengers, through the gate and onto the train just as the doors slid closed. Immediately I felt guilt – the ends not justifying the means and all that. Just because I had animosity for the conductor who closed the train doors in my face the night before and then smiled as he speeded by me out of the station doesn’t make it okay.

At the next station passengers piled on and the conductor’s voice boomed through the speakers to a guy still on the platform, “Hey, Mr. Messenger! Don’t even think about getting on this train with that bike.

And just like that I didn’t feel so bad anymore.



  1. MTA may fight panel's hefty pay hikes for transit workers
    By Pete Donohue
    Saturday, August 15th 2009

    The MTA is considering challenging an arbitration panel's decision to grant transit workers generous wage hikes, officials said Friday.
    A state judge can throw out a contract after concluding arbitrators didn't properly apply the criteria mandated by the legislation, including an employer's ability to pay wages and benefits.

    The pact grants transit workers staggered annual raises totaling 4%, 4% and 3.5% over the three-year contract.
    MTA officials said it would increase costs by $350 million.

    The major provisions in the contract crafted by the arbitrators mirror the terms supported last year by MTA CEO Elliot Sander and NYC Transit President Howard Roberts before direct talks with union boss Roger Toussaint ended and the two sides turned to arbitration to finalize a deal. Sander resigned in May.

    The MTA under acting CEO Helena Williams tried unsuccessfully to steer the panel away from the framework supported by Sander and Roberts, concluding it spelled a bad financial deal for the authority, even if it included removing conductors from some subway lines.

    A union spokesman said the MTA's legal review is "another attempt by the MTA to mask its incompetence."


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