• Will They Ever Return?

  • This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.
This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by west point
 
Face to face works so much better for many jobs. Can you imagine RR dispatchers having to WFH trying to get next distric on the phone when next distric is tied up with some trivial problem. All the jobs I have had required much co ordination with others and bosses.
  by eolesen
 
west point wrote:Face to face works so much better for many jobs. Can you imagine RR dispatchers having to WFH trying to get next distric on the phone when next distric is tied up with some trivial problem. All the jobs I have had required much co ordination with others and bosses.
Our flight dispatchers use Microsoft Teams to get hold of each other, or the weather desk, or ATC, maintenance, etc....

Not only does it work, but the union seems happy with the level of accountability that chat history affords vs. "he said she said" when there's a delay or dispute over who told whom what and when...

The dispatchers like it because they can multitask and have fewer drive-by distractions.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by photobug56
 
eolesen wrote: Sun Jun 12, 2022 10:53 am WFH has to be one of the greenest policies around. Very interesting to see liberals so opposed to it...

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk
I'm left center, and I greatly prefer it or maybe 2 days a week in the office AS needed. I know I'm far more productive from home. Imagine a job where, when you are in the office, you are way too close to the next person (great if you are immune compromised, have lung issues...), and where the people you are near, part of HR, are ALWAYS loudly chit chatting while you are on conference calls, vendor calls, or hip deep in a spreadsheet. Only reason for liberals to support being on premises is that local vendors get more work, for instance more people eating at food carts and the like. But the 4 hour round trip (maybe a bit faster if I was using ESA) is painful, lousy for productivity, the LIRR diesels belch smoke like a coal burner (between breakdowns), plus the drive to the station... And working in Manhattan costs a fortune - breakfast, lunch are expensive, plus the subway (unless you can avoid that). I used to use the M4 bus to get from Penn to my office, than NYCDOT and TA decided it no longer needed to be near Penn, to just end in the middle of a midtown block not close to other transportation. So that forced a lot of people off of buses, probably into UBER's or the like.

So why would 'liberals' like this?
  by photobug56
 
west point wrote: Sun Jun 12, 2022 4:50 pm Face to face works so much better for many jobs. Can you imagine RR dispatchers having to WFH trying to get next distric on the phone when next distric is tied up with some trivial problem. All the jobs I have had required much co ordination with others and bosses.
Sounds like they have a major communications problem if they can't make it work well from home.
  by lordsigma12345
 
eolesen wrote: Sun Jun 12, 2022 10:53 am WFH has to be one of the greenest policies around. Very interesting to see liberals so opposed to it...

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk
I don’t consider myself liberal I’m more moderate. Some of my views would align more liberal but on some issues not so much - I’m not a huge greenie for instance. Most people think WFH is the greatest thing ever and I do understand the appeal and why some prefer it. But I’m merely pointing out what I view as the drawbacks. There’s no doubt we are a divided nation and I believe WFH will make us even more so especially because it’s a privilege not everyone has and I think it further cements people into their personal life bubbles and allows people to simply tune out the world outside of their individual lives which leads to more indifference and inability to relate to others in different situations. I think some level of flexibility and ability to work from home is great, but I don’t think people working 100% from home is a great thing for society. Again I know I’m in the minority most people think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and I understand why most people like it so much, but I just think it’s going to contribute to the continued fragmenting of our political discourse.

Across the society and all political views we have become very much indifferent to the plights of others outside the familiar bubbles that we live in which and the digital era has made it harder for people to relate because the technology allows people simply to not interact with anyone outside of their individual world - which in my opinion is what has fueled the growth of the nationalist populism on the right as well as the excessive preachiness and hypersensitivity of the left…. Don’t get me wrong I don’t know what the solutions are to reform how the system works in this digital era to try to bring back more stability maybe it’s more political parties. But political discourse is a mess and I wish more of the decision makers had it on their radar instead of simply trying to use the division for political advantage.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Here's an article appearing today in The Times that should please the RTO proponents around here such as Messrs. Lord and Wolf.

Fair Use:
... The shift from commuting caused by the pandemic left empty seats on the once-packed trains and buses bringing commuters from New Jersey to New York City. But those crowded conditions will return and may worsen over the next decade as the region’s population grows and more employers call workers back to their offices, a new study concluded.

Even if working from home quadruples from prepandemic levels, there still would be more commuters piling onto trains and buses to get across the Hudson River from New Jersey on some weekdays than in 2019, according to the study, scheduled to be released on Wednesday by the Regional Plan Association ...
  by photobug56
 
It's a mixed bag overall. Many reasons that make one loath to spend even a minute in an office remain. Bad managers at all levels, bad facilities - people too close to each other, poor ventilation, poorly maintained offices, uncomfortable chairs, high noise levels, extremely expensive and often super slow commutes, super expensive breakfasts and lunches, and more. For me, commuting would now cost at least $1000 per month, and the round trip if to midtown about 4 hours. Plus productivity is much lower. And mass transit / commuter rail has gone way down hill since this started - on any given day huge numbers of trains and buses are cancelled due to broken down equipment and not enough employees at agencies.

Under normal conditions, I'm used to 2 days in office, 3 WFH. I'd be in for meetings with vendors and businesses, but could get little else done in a very low productivity environment. I'd make up for it the other 3 days, working longer, and getting far more done per hour minus all the distractions. Plus I wouldn't be exhausted most of the time.

Few office workers need to be IN. There are exceptions, and for them, Hybrid often works.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Those here, as well as the mass transit agencies, business center restaurants, and bars, as well as Mr. Wolf et al, will be happy to read Peggy Noonan and her "take" that it's time for an RTO.

Rail is not mentioned within, but her thoughts will definitely have impact.

Fair Use:
...Arguments against working from home are largely intangible, and I focus on these. They are less personal, more national and societal.

I don’t want to see office life in America end. The decline in office life is going to have an impact on the general atmosphere of the country. There is something demoralizing about all the empty offices, something post-greatness about them. All the almost-empty buildings in all the downtowns—it feels too much like a metaphor for decline.
  by daybeers
 
As I've said before, the second paragraph is largely due to America's obsession on suburban workers commuting to their white collar 9-5 jobs downtown. That needs to change above all else. Many downtowns are far too oriented around that economy which hasn't worked for a long time. Need to bring back actual residents, amenities, and things to do instead of it being an office park that's just inside a city downtown.
  by photobug56
 
People live in the suburbs for a few reasons. Not being able to afford anything decent in the city is at the top of the list. I moved out of Manhattan because my wife worked on Long Island, and we wanted a house, garage, decent schools. But we had no idea how bad the commute would be, like 4 hours round trip - and then crooked bosses at my last firm chose to move hundreds of jobs to near where they lived in expensive suburbs, out of reach of numerous employees.

Some things I liked about working in the city. Breakfast carts, my favorite Chinese fast food place (with real Chinese food), and many places in the city. But non-accessible subway stations, broken escalators and elevators in others, old, run down office space even on Park Avenue (when I worked at 245 Park, our offices had mold in them from leaks of rain), the Long Island Hell Road (aka LIRR), daily struggle to find a parking space at the train station, slow, broken down trains, sardine can cars, long hours on top of the long commute, all these make the commute harder and harder.

As long as the profit motive determines what is built in cities, nothing will change, except that now, Vornado and others want to build several new office towers by tearing down everything around Penn, including a church and great hotel. Many jobs will be lost and residents displaced. Sure, some super expensive apartments might be built, but that won't help workers.
  by STrRedWolf
 
I can see what they're trying to do here: Build office space right next to the station that can be leased at cheap rates (but still expensive enough to cover building costs). Businesses would move from more expensive places into those next-to-transit offices, which then see savings in reimbursing transit costs (as they're not paying for subway fare, just train fare).

Pre-pandemic, I could see things preventing it from working. Tail-end pandemic, I'm not sure if it's even worth it. LIRR and NJ Transit commuter rail ridership is hovering at 60% on weekdays... and I fear it's going to stay there. Work-From-Home got a kick in the pants. A lot of folks retired. A lot of folks set up shop. And a lot of folks got cars (myself included, although for different reasons).

This is definitely going to be a "I'm wrong on this one" deal.
  by photobug56
 
I like having an office near a LIRR terminal as much as the next person. BUT - to do this they first have to cause enormous harm. They have to tear down things that don't need to be, including a church. There's a place that helps the homeless (by the church?) that will get eliminated - and Penn will likely be their new destination. And the fun parts - past the useless cosmetic parts above ground, there will be little to no money for actual transit improvements inside Penn, nor does it address the connection to PATH and 6th Ave subway. Many years of painful demolition and construction. And for this real estate Taj Mahal, they will likely need very high rents, though paying a lot less property tax will help Vornado.

Though as to the low ridership, Penn internally (no skylights needed) being better could make a difference. It will take replacement of all the slow, unreliable escalators and all the vertically mobile cesspools (AKA elevators) in Penn and the 2 subway stations with ones that work, are fast and reliable - and a lot more of them. Appropriate fast food and retail. Most importantly, better, faster and more reliable train and subway service with a lot less crime. But LIRR depends on a junk diesel fleet (especially the DM's), will soon have 100 M3's back in service, clearly has lousy maintenance, and the subways are full of homeless, crazies and muggers and are only about 25% ADA accessible. It typically takes me about 2 hours each way to commute (to different parts of Manhattan). A bit of that driving to and from my house, a bit waiting for the train (OK, sometimes a lot, without knowing for sure if it will show up). LIRR trains out to me average maybe 30 - 40 MPH if they are actually running and are nearly always late in the morning. PM trains traditionally have a lot more padding in their schedules. Of course, when service begins to LIRR GCT, Penn will become a lot less important to LIRR riders, thus reducing need for new office space there even more.
  by photobug56
 
ARC, the train to Macy's Cellar, was a very bad joke - but there's so much about what's currently planned that's not much better. Of course, to do what the article suggests would have to include electrification of all of LIRR - enough of the 2nd class service (really dis service) we now have. The diesel fleet needs scrapping, anyway. I'm against the real estate grab for the idiotic Penn South, but would love to see well thought out through running. It's about time that commuter rail acknowledge that people living in the NYC Metro area may need to work anywhere in the area.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
An article appearing in The Times today suggests that RTO is more a big city issue than in smaller ones:

Fair Use:
In small cities — those with populations under 300,000 — the share of paid, full days worked from home dropped to 27 percent this spring from around 42 percent in October 2020. In the 10 largest U.S. cities, days worked from home shifted to roughly 38 percent from 50 percent in that same period, according to a team of researchers at Stanford and other institutions led by the economists Steven Davis, Nick Bloom and Jose Maria Barrero.

Offices have filled back up fastest in areas where Covid lockdowns were shortest and where commutes are done by car, according to Mr. Davis. Many cities in California and New York, in particular, have been slower to return to the office than those in Florida and Texas.
Rail is not mentioned because in smaller cities such as profiled Columbus, Ohio, rail, even the "light" varietal is not a factor in how knowledge workers commute to the office.

Any suggestions how the larger cities- especially those where rail is an option - will entice workers to make the RTO?

Meantime. I continue to observe METRA trains with many more windows than faces.
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