Letters to the Editor

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Fan of Vintage Subway Cars

Dear Editor:

Riding the vintage 1917 MTA NYC Transit subway train on opening day from Grand Central Station (including the old fashion seats, ceiling fans and the 1917 advertisements) to Yankee Stadium was another trip down memory lane. This generation of subway cars was so well built and maintained that they ran until the 1960’s!

Up until the 1960’s, it was common to find both penny gum and soda machines dispensing products at 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 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 or rampant graffiti.

Subway conductors would never dream of closing the doors while riders attempted to cross the platform attempting to transfer from a local to the express train. Riders did not have to deal with aggressive panhandlers. It was unusual to find fellow riders hogging two seats, yawning, coughing or sneezing without covering up and the release of flatulence. Women did not have to worry about being routinely accosted by gropers. No one had to deal with perverts engaging in other unhealthy sexual activities.

Until the 1960’s, most subway stations had clean safe working bathrooms with toilet paper. In those days, you had to pay separate fares for buses and subways. Bus operators had to make change while at the same time drive the bus. There was no Metro Card or Transit Checks to help keep costs down.

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, W & 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.


Larry Penner

(Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office).

An Open Letter to Congressman Adam Schiff

Dear Mr. Schiff,

As a rabbi in your home state of California, thank you for your service, dedication, and passion in serving our nation. There is no doubt that you courageously battle for your beliefs with all your might, and whether someone agrees or disagrees with you, we each should respect and honor you for consistently working for what you believe is best for this country.

It is out of this respect for you that I implore you to remember the teachings of your Jewish ancestors while you are in the midst of controversy…especially with regard to Jewish teachings about “lashon hara”, “the evil tongue”.

Otherwise known as gossip, our ancient Sages taught that the evil tongue is equivalent to theft, murder, and idolatry combined, and that it was the reason for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is the cause of “baseless hatred” between people. It “murders” the person being spoken about. It “steals” from the listener the opportunity to form their own opinion. And it presents the one gossiping as an “idol”; a person who feels they have the “right” to gossip. It is a sin for which there is no cure in this world, and damages the soul as much or more than any other action.

You are clearly in a challenging position. The pressure from your Republican colleagues, many of whom are probably old friends, is substantial. You have made your personal feelings about President Trump clear, and it must be incredibly difficult to work with someone you clearly dislike for the benefit of the country. But please, do not lose your own soul in the process by spreading that evil tongue through the media, and as a result, the world. For the sake of the nation, and of your own spirit, remember the teachings of your ancestors.

If you believe in your heart that there is still an issue of collusion with Russia and president Trump, it is incumbent upon you to investigate that to the fullest extent. But take a lesson from Robert Mueller, and for the sake of “Shalom Bayit”, “peace in the house”, please do not continue in this painful practice of making public accusations against the President in the media.

Until your investigation is completed, have the respect not only for the people of this country and for the office of the Presidency, but for your own well being, to not cause more baseless hatred by continuing to spread accusatory gossip when you have not completed a full investigation. Err on the side of caution, for the benefit of all of us as well as yourself, and please refrain from continuing the inflammatory gossip that you have been spreading.

Again, thank you for your service and your passion. But please remember to heed the tradition of your ancestors and pause before making public accusations… for the benefit of both your soul and our country.

B’shalom u’vracha

With peace and blessings,

Rabbi Michael Barclay

Rabbi Michael Barclay is the Spiritual Leader of Temple Ner Simcha in Westlake Village, CA (www.NerSimcha.org), and the author of “Sacred Relationships: Biblical Wisdom for Deepening Our Lives Together” (Liturgical Press).

Higher Bridge Toll Will Discourage Driving

Dear Editor:

It’s good news that the tolls increased on some river crossings, especially with the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge now being the most expensive bridge to drive across in the country. Maybe that would make some motorists think twice before polluting the neighborhoods through which the freeways cut and contributing to climate change.

Discouraging driving, especially driving into a city, is good urban and environmental policy. Now the city and region need to do everything possible to dramatically increase mass transit options and infrastructure so that the people who use the Verrazano for longer trips that could be awkward by mass transit would have the viable option of taking a train or bus. Efficient and cheap mass transit and expensive tolls to discourage driving are a winning combination.

As always, people, especially some of the people who should complain the least, are having knee-jerk reactions. “My G-d — $19 without E-ZPass! I mean, you’re going to Staten Island! It doesn’t seem worth it,” Bay Ridge resident Gloria Padron told The New York Post. She is apparently unaware of the fact that motorists are allowed to use E-ZPass, which gives drivers a discount, and she does not seem to realize that the MTA has select bus service that runs between Bay Ridge and Staten Island via the bridge for $2.75, and that includes a free transfer. Now someone like her may think twice before lugging a car across the bridge when she could help the environment and also take up less road and curb space by taking the bus instead of a car.

Congestion pricing and higher tolls are a good start. Now let’s further disincentivize driving and put massive investments into our infrastructure and mass transit. Life depends on it.


Libby Giebel

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