Jump to content
Attention: In order to reply to messages, create topics, have access to other features of the community you must sign up for an account.


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


One, Only Sometimes the Loneliest Number

Recommended Posts

One, Only Sometimes the Loneliest Number



August 5, 2007


Kitra Cahana/The New York Times


“For utilitarian purposes,” one rider says of the No. 1 line, “it’s an excellent train.”


FOR starters, it’s not empty. Riders pile on and squeeze in to avoid the pinch of the closing doors. Arms reach out like branches from the thicket of standees to cling to available pole space; one young woman, stranded, braces herself by pressing a hand against a low ceiling. Hip-hop spills from headphones, people inexplicably wear sunglasses, and there’s the occasional whiff of bad breath.


This is rush hour aboard the No. 1, the city’s newly crowned best subway line, so honored about two weeks ago when the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group, named the No. 1 the best line in New York in its annual rankings.


Riders seemed happy to concur, or at least happy enough to say that they’re generally pleased with service on the line, even if they hesitated to call it the best.


“It gets you where you want to go,” said Bill Helmreich, a sociology professor at City College, as he waited at the West 50th Street stop one night last week. “If I wanted luxury, I’d take a taxi. But for utilitarian purposes, it’s an excellent train.”


The No. 1 unseated the No. 6 line because of the frequency of its service, the timeliness of its trains, its cleanliness and the clarity and accuracy of its in-car announcements.


Still, riders on other lines may take satisfaction in knowing that passengers on the No. 1 are not spared certain discomforts. Especially in the recent 90-plus-degree weather, people still sweat while waiting in hot, airless stations. And space is sometimes at a premium.


One morning last week, conductors prodded downtown riders with announcements like: “If you cannot fit on this train, please wait for the next one.” A woman dropped her newspaper onto the spare inch or two of floor before her and crouched cautiously to retrieve it, with nothing to grasp onto but no room to fall. Dress shirts got fresh new creases as they were pressed against the doors of downtown trains.


Heading uptown during the morning rush is another story. When traveling between West 34th and West 125th Streets, the train sometimes has all the bustle of a morgue. Riders sometimes stretch out into a second seat. They read, or stare at blue tunnel lights whizzing by, or close their eyes and let their bodies bob like dashboard dolls.


At night, trains in both directions are calm. Dress shoes and sandals board and exit in a steady dance, and riders seem to silently get lost in toying with cellphones or listening to iPods.


“Look how empty this train is!” marveled Mr. Helmreich, the professor, as he hopped aboard an arriving train at West 50th Street. “Could there be anything better for two bucks?”

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.