Redundant Resiliency in New York City Transit After Sandy

How many days did you have off after Hurricane Sandy? Did your boss give you a couple days off since there was no way to get to work outside of waiting a couple hours for a bus from Brooklyn to Midtown or was she a nice manager and ended up giving you an unexpected week of vacation? Or was she more like James Dolan and say that even though it’s nearly impossible for you to get to work, you’re still going to be docked a vacation day should you fail to show up. 

Anyway, even if you had an angel of a manager it was probably still a challenge to get to work if you toil anywhere below 34th Street. Some of you took those buses with the comically long lines. Some of you walked across the Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn bridges like some sort of hipster diaspora. Some of you worked from home because you’re lucky jerks. But the winners in the post-Sandy transitocalypse took to the open seas of the East River, hopped on a ferry, and were able to head into the office three days after Sandy.

Obviously the ferry system in New York is sort of the forgotten cousin of the New York transit family, but most people forget that before the bridges went up the only way to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan was heading down to the coast and hopping on a ferry. (And yes, you can go look up Whitman’s “Brooklyn Ferry” now.) Now the ferry is sort of an u

 Redundant Resiliency in New York City Transit After Sandy

Instagram User Virginia Laird Snapped this Photo of the Absurd “Bus Bridge” Lines

nfortunate gimmick, viewed as a niche transit mode used mostly by Staten Islanders (and just for clarification, we’re talking about the East River Ferries rather than the extremely useful [and free] State Island ferry) and people who use Instagram entirely too much. In fact, the ferries that run from Brooklyn to Manhattan are operating on a ticking subsidy that is set to expire within a couple years. (Quick aside: the fact that the ferries came back so quickly after Hurricane Sandy proved invaluable as far as emergency preparedness goes. That alone should extend the subsidy indefinitely—but it probably won’t.)

 Redundant Resiliency in New York City Transit After Sandy

Have you ever heard some one on a bus or a subway (and this was especially popular in Boston) complain about buses and subways running the exact same route? If they’re smart they’ll use  ”redundancy”, if they’re not they’ll say “stupid”, because at the end of the day the words are interchangeable when it comes to transit apparently. Unfortunately, after Hurricane Sandy essentially took the MTA offline we saw that the false semantic equality manifest itself in masses of people struggling to make a trip that is almost instinctual. With transit, redundancy should be a goal only deferential to access. Redundancy has more in common with resiliency than waste, and it’s time the New York transit community embraced that equality.

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