• 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 photobug56
 
I would note that other issues affect RTO. For instance, office layouts and ventilation / air filtering. I once worked just north of GCT in a mold filled office on Park. Top building, major bank, very sick office space. Also, while midtown has always been expensive to eat in, not that many firms have cafeterias, let alone ones that are affordable, and most smaller buildings with affordable delis, fast food (including Chinese) are long gone, and even food carts - at least the ones that are not disgusting, tend to be very fancy and expensive. IOTW, on top of several hundred bucks a month for the commute, plus car parking fees at your home station, and now $20 a day or more for not very fancy breakfast and lunch, commuting has become very expensive, a lot more so than a few years ago. And food options are few enough that you can encounter long lines, so by the time you have food you don't have time to eat. The Oriental bank I worked for pre COVID had one badly overcrowded lunch room for multiple floors, and water dispensers were frequently broken. Oh, and vending machines were like playing the slots!

IOTW, employers at many firms have made commuting something they require but make as painful as possible. And that's before I talk about how hard it is to get any work done in an overcrowded, noisy office.
  by eolesen
 
One thing I've noticed with a lot of the people that have returned to office is they are only going into the office a couple days per week, and often for only half a day.

Relative to transit, many of them are driving because the cost of getting a monthly pass for less than monthly usage makes no sense. Plus, with parking garages being fairly empty, there are some really good deals for day rates when you look around on Spot Hero and some of the other parking apps.



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  by photobug56
 
But traffic is awful.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Suffice to say that during the heat, I have been taking my daily three mile walk early morning, and along the BNSF.

While of course METRA's management has the actual ridership numbers and all I have aref my observations, I think that METRA's existing pre-COVID level of service, that they presently operate, is simply not sustainable. I don't see how drastic service cuts along the BNSF can be avoided.

I will not be surprised if the Sunday schedule of two hour frequency plus one or two limited stop trains during "rush hour" will be announced in the near future, along with of course additional service for events such as a music festival (not MY music) just concluded. I further fail to see how they will begin to assign the new equipment they ordered "in good faith" immediately prior to the COVID era.

Possibly other lines that serve areas where more "front line" workers reside than in "the land of the Burlingtons", have not been affected as badly, but out here the existing level is, again, not sustainable.
  by eolesen
 
photobug56 wrote: Tue Aug 02, 2022 7:42 pm But traffic is awful.
Not really --- I've been seeing people working 1000-1430 (working thru lunch) which beats traffic in both directions.
  by photobug56
 
Long Island highways, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx - everywhere we've been has been jammed full of traffic. But I can imagine that the Manhattan CBD is less so at this time.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
This morning on my walk, I observed BNSF 1202, 1204, and 1206. If on the Engineer side of 02 and 04, there were more than two faces in the window, well. "I missed 'em". 06 was an Express and on Fireman's side, didn't note too many more.

The existing service level, at least here (maybe not as severe on lines such as IC Electric and Rock Island where more "front line" workers reside), is simply not sustainable.
  by Ken W2KB
 
eolesen wrote: Tue Aug 02, 2022 7:36 pm One thing I've noticed with a lot of the people that have returned to office is they are only going into the office a couple days per week, and often for only half a day.

Relative to transit, many of them are driving because the cost of getting a monthly pass for less than monthly usage makes no sense. Plus, with parking garages being fairly empty, there are some really good deals for day rates when you look around on Spot Hero and some of the other parking apps.
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My observations are similar. As a result of two day office, 3 day at home work arrangements, businesses have reaped a very great cost savings by eliminating approximately half their office space. Many leases are being terminated at the earliest point in order to reduce the office space. Employers reap that benefit and employees reap the benefit of fewer hours and dollars spent per week on wasted time commuting by personal vehicle or transit.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
There are even TV shows now about this RTO dikemma:

https://www.hbo.com/industry

Glad it doesn't affect me.
  by Defiant
 
eolesen wrote: Tue Aug 02, 2022 7:36 pm One thing I've noticed with a lot of the people that have returned to office is they are only going into the office a couple days per week, and often for only half a day.
Never heard of anyone going to the office for half a day . Usually 2 -3 times a week full days. The only caveat is that if someone needs to finish work late, they usually leave and continue WFH.
eolesen wrote: Tue Aug 02, 2022 7:36 pm Relative to transit, many of them are driving because the cost of getting a monthly pass for less than monthly usage makes no sense. Plus, with parking garages being fairly empty, there are some really good deals for day rates when you look around on Spot Hero and some of the other parking apps.


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I don't know anyone who is driving to Manhattan. If anything, the traffic everywhere is worse then before Covid because some New Yorkers are scared of taking subway. Especially over the summer with some tourists coming back. Not too many people like to roast under the sun stuck near the tunnel approaches.

On the other hand, at least NJT has a lot less people, seats are always available and the transit commute is actually very relaxing. The on time performance seems to be slightly better then before Covid. That has been my experience on the Bergen County NJT line and PATH...
  by lensovet
 
It's unclear to me what the future here is.

An Amtrak Keystone ticket for Trenton-NYP is currently cheaper than an NJT one for a ride that's half an hour shorter if bought sufficiently far in advance. I somehow doubt that was the case in 2019. Frequently only half the seats are taken. I don't mind it, but as Mr. Norman points out, I don't know how this is sustainable.

OTOH Regionals are much fuller. So the leisure traffic is not only back, but potentially more robust.

I come into the office on non-office days. Basically see one or two people in the entire office during that time.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
My prediction is that as COVID becomes "another we live with it just as we do with the flu", the most lasting Socio-economic change arising will be WFH.
  by photobug56
 
My spouse and I were in De Bronx today - coming south to Queens, horrible traffic in rush hour. Traffic 3 hours earlier in the Bronx was super slow, though that's because of bad road engineering, dangerous drivers and badly mistimed traffic lights. Coming east from the Cross Island on the LIE, traffic was heavy, but there may have been an accident. Still, I'd note 2 things; one, I still think that a much higher proportion of Manhattan workers who do go into the office on at least some days are driving, not using Long Island H-ll Road or the subways. 2. Those at MTA who think no one commutes between Queens / Nassau / Suffolk and north of the city can't include people working at TBTA - bridge traffic is very heavy. But LIRR bosses have long ignored people on Long Island and places like White Plains who have to drive because there is no viable mass transit choice. For me, to get to my last job in White Plains would have been on the rare good day at LIRR (forget Mutro North and the subways) would take 6 hours round trip, dropping to 5 to 5.5 if ESA functions some day as it is supposed to. IMHO, MTA is just a collection of political hacks, 3 transit agencies and a massive pit in the ground that sucks in taxpayer money, not a regional transportation authority. And as commuting patterns change, they are absolutely clueless.
  by lensovet
 
I highly doubt anyone is driving into Manhattan to commute. When did parking prices drop?

It's Friday and the weather is slated to be quite nice this weekend. Tons of traffic in the farmlands of South Jersey including multiple accidents with people headed to the shore. Not really indicative of anything.
  by photobug56
 
Lots of companies still offer (IRS allowed) pre tax payment of parking expense. Given how high commuter tickets are, plus subway, this may be a great deal for some people.
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