Nostalgia Trains & Busses for the Holidays
It is refreshing to hear that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit has begun running a series of nostalgia trains and buses to help celebrate the holidays in December. The “Shoppers Special” consisting of eight cars from the 1930’s runs 10 AM and 5 PM on the F train between 2nd Avenue and A/C/D Harlem 125th Street stations in Manhattan Sundays thru December 24th..
Riding the old subway cars reminds me of a time when it was common to find both penny gum and soda machines dispensing products at many subway stations. Clean and safe bathrooms were readily available. It was a time when people respected authority and law. Previous generations of riders did not litter subway stations and buses, by leaving behind gum, candy wrappers, paper cups, bottles and newspapers. No one would openly eat pizza, chicken or other messy foods while riding a bus or subway. Everyone paid their way and there was no fare evasion.
Previous generations of subway riders survived daily commutes with no air conditioning. In 1967, NYC Transit introduced the first ten air conditioned subway cars operating on the old IND system (Independent municipal NYC built, financed and operated A, C, E. F & G lines). It was not until 1975, that air conditioned subway cars were introduced on the old IRT (NYC private franchised Independent Rapid Transit system operated 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Franklin Avenue and Times Square shuttle lines).
Subsequently, this also included the old BMT (NYC private franchised Brooklyn Manhattan Transit system B, D, J, L, M, N, Q, R & Z lines), It took until 1982 to retrofit all the original IRT “Redbird” series subway cars. By 1993, 99% of the NYC 6,000 subway cars were air conditioned with the exception of a handful running on the #7 Flushing line.
Fast forward to today, and you can see how MTA public transportation is still one of the best bargains in town. Riders can count on air conditioned buses, subway and commuter rail cars working close to 99% on a daily basis.
(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office) .
Bloomberg’s Donation to Johns Hopkins
Your article called “Bloomberg Donates $1.8B to Alma Mater Johns Hopkins” caught my attention.
Michael Bloomberg will apparently donate a whopping $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, to create a fund that would help low-income and moderate-income students attend without having to worry about the cost, his charitable organization.
The money would expand the university’s endowment by more than 40 percent, to about $6.1 billion. The fund would be dedicated to undergraduate financial aid and recruitment, and would be enough, a university official said, to cover the full difference between the cost of attending Johns Hopkins and the amount that students and their families can afford to pay.
It’s great to see people with power doing good things with money. We still need to be careful though when powerful people toss around a lot of money because it sometimes gives them too much skin in the game and boxes out the voices of the common people. At its worst, philanthropy can be used for influence peddling and censorship. Bloomberg could also be trying to further position himself as an anti-Trump candidate in 2020. Whatever the motivation, education and STEM are extremely important and always underfunded by the government. Investments in a university that has excellent STEM programs, does great research, and is an all-around superb academic institution is a good way forward for America.
Fond Memories of the Poconos
As someone who loves the mountains and spent many of his childhood summers at a Poconos sleepaway camp, I loved reading your article “25 Ways to Enjoy the Pocono Mountains This Fall.”
Even though the old Pocono resorts are mostly dead, leaving behind abandoned properties and long-forgotten memories, the beauty of the area hasn’t changed.
With 2,400 square miles encompassing Pennsylvania’s Carbon, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties, the Pocono Mountains region is home to rolling mountain terrain, breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls, thriving woodlands and 170 miles of winding rivers.
I learned how to mountain bike and how to handle mountain climbs on a road bike while passing through scenic and remote areas of the Poconos. I became proficient enough on snow skis on the mountains there in the winter that I can handle most of the tough trails out west now. I even did water skiing in the Poconos during a few summers. The state and national parks are treasures too and provide great camping and cabin experiences for really cheap. Some cabins are even available year-round!
I don’t often return to the Poconos though, but not because I don’t want to. The area needs to be more accessible by mass transit. Currently, a few private bus carries service the area, but they can have restrictive baggage rules, which makes bringing things like bikes or skis difficult or not even allowed. If NJ Transit could ever fully restore the Lackawanna Cutoff, trains could run from just outside New York in Hoboken to Scranton, Pa. Tobyhanna even has its own stop, a historic one at that, which means that New Yorkers would be able to take a train right to Tobyhanna State Park.
The little towns up there are mostly rundown, so it would be nice to see some sort of a revival, where there would be a bunch of cool towns, like places in the Catskills such as Woodstock, New Paltz, and Rosendale. Mass transit and promoting nature could help make those revivals possible. I’d certainly visit a few times a year.
The Struggle of Retailers
I enjoyed reading your article “David’s Bridal Headed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy; Dresses to Still be Delivered on Time” because it was interesting to learn more about how such a big retailer could struggle.
The largest provider of wedding supplies in America has over $400 million of debt it needs to offload. The good news is that wedding dresses that were already purchased by customers will still arrive.
Online purchasing has driven down retail profits since the boom of ecommerce, and higher-end clothing boutiques started feeling the pinch more recently. Some even closed their doors and opened online stores. David’s Bridal is just the latest, but biggest, store to face too much debt.
I got a bunch of great clearance deals at a men’s formalwear store where I grew up a few years ago because the store was closing. I got my first suit there, back when I was going to at least one Bar or Bat Mitzvah every weekend for almost two years. It was sad to see this small and personal place that offered such great quality and services move out of its shop, but the owner said all the money was in online retail. I could still buy from him if I wanted, but it’s just not the same. Now it’s just an impersonal online experience with a forgettable company that’s just providing a service I need at this moment.
Hopefully David’s Bridal can come back strongly and help pave the way for more retail to figure out how to survive in this economy.
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