The Worst Day of The Month

Photograph by Jens Umbach

It arrives with a shock, probably like a jellyfish sting in ankle-deep water — INSUFFICIENT FARE.

And then one hundred and four dollars are ripped from my pocket. That’s how the worst day of the month begins.

My plan is to bike in to the studio every day, once the weather becomes dependably warm. And then do my best to avoid the trains until November. If I have a meeting, I’ll bring a change of clothes and wash up at work.

But this price point — it’s vile. An almost 20% fare increase with a 0% improvement in product. In particular for those of us that live on the C.

The full-car adverts the MTA runs to rationalize the change only serve to amplify my frustration. Their only advertisement is their product, and right now their product is eighties-vintage C trains and unmanned token booths.

I’m writing this on a train home, at the end of a deeply exhilarating, deeply exhausting day. I worked late because meetings ate the day, and so am riding home with everyone else that works their ass off to survive in this city. Everyone looks tired, ready for the comforts of home. Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, old, young…this is New York. But the majority don’t have my luxury: self-employment, no dress code.

What happens when the fare becomes $150? $200? What resistance can we offer that? How to keep the plutocrats from pouring our money down the bottomless maws of corruption and inefficiency?

I’m going to give this some thought. New York deserves better.

22 March 2011, 09:24

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