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


  1. I can hardly defend the MTA. The C train is a piece of shit and emblematic of a larger tradition of public transportation policies in this country that have forever been fundamentally racist & classist (see:

    But man, everyone’s transportation math is vile these days. My 12 mile trip to work (perfectly impossible by public transportation or bicycle) adds up to over $150 a month in fuel (my stomach somersaults at the thought of $5/gallon this summer) and another $300+ in car payments, insurance and maintenance costs. Then there was last month’s $500 deductable after some shithead hit my parked car…to say nothing of the cost of my solitary commute’s carbon footprint.

    I’d give my eyeteeth for $104 ride to work, albeit a sometimes slow and often dingy ride. At least MTA allows for the luxuries of reading and writing and the most colorful people watching money can buy.

    That’s all to say, I think its hard on all these streets for working folks to make ends meet and make it to the office on time.

    — ladejota · 4834 days ago · #