James Edstrom Riding The Rails

Today as we sit here in Times Square, I am pissed off at so many things. Today I want to touch on a few things. With the election coming up, we are just looking at the same old promises and the same old lies. It's too bad we don't have any candidate that uses common sense. It's a shame none of these candidates will take on the MTA. Everything will remain the same no matter who wins. They all collect their big salaries and they all play the same game.


The MTA is the biggest money waste machine ever. The people that run this huge transit company need to be fired and replaced. They just do not know how to micro-manage a system as big as the MTA. Here are some facts that as a commuter I notice every day.

Collection of fares: I notice on several bus lines that I ride, that people are riding for free. I have complained several times to the bus drivers and they look at me like I am nuts. For one, the bx15 line in the Bronx. At every single stop, 5 to 15 people will just go through the back door of the bus without paying. Now this line has so many stops, I estimate that this line loses millions of bucks a month on non-collected fares. Several times I have complained to the bus drivers on these routes and said, " Look, they are all going through the back doors". The drivers look at me like I am crazy. I feel cheated each and every time, as I pay the fare. Meanwhile above the bus line at the White Plains road subway station, they have a cop stationed there every single day doing nothing, even know the turnstiles can not be jumped there. This cop and more cops should be policing the bus stops and ticketing the people who do not pay the fares. Now figuring a non-scientific way on the money lost by how many bus lines we have in NYC, I figure we have to lose over a 200 million a year from this.

The answer to this: Put turnstiles on the back doors. Have undercover police ride the bus lines and start ticketing the fare evaders. Simple, but too much logic for the MTA to handle.

MTA workers tools and supplies: Just look out the window of any major hub on The Long Island Railroad. Jamaica , Hicksville and all the other transit hubs. Tools Lying and rusting on the tracks, chemicals, new tracks just sitting off to the side rotting.

The answer: Every worker signs out their tools and supplies and must report back with them. Simple, yet the MTA will tell you reasons this will not work.

Hiring of workers: For years it has been a very dirty little secret that you can not get a job in the MTA unless you are a friend or relative of someone that already works there. I have been told this by so many people that work on the Long Island Railroad. This has been going on for years and has to be stopped.

The answer: Hire people that really want to work no matter who they know at the MTA. If you want to fire someone for not doing their job, it has been almost impossible due to the fact that they all stick together.

Station ticket agents: These jobs are now obsolete. We do not need these people anymore. The MTA employees and the unions will yell that we need them for safety. Then hire security guards. These ticket agents do just about nothing except sell a few tickets now and then. We have vending machines that take cash, credit cards and do everything. I can not tell you how many times I have gone into a station and these guys are doing nothing and many are just sitting there sleeping. Yes sleeping!

The answer: Fire them all or give them other jobs in the system. This is a waste of hundreds of millions of taxpayer money.

Subway Cleaners: Anyone that knows that if you ride the subways to the last stop, they have subway cleaners that are supposed to clean the cars before they get sent out again. An example is the #6 line in Pelham Bay. I always spot one worker trying to clean as quick as possible, with all the others sitting around. This must be the newbie worker who gets stuck with actually doing his job, but he can not clean every car as they are only in the station for a few minutes before they go back into service. These workers I have even seen sitting down in the Subway car and catching a nap or eating. They are not doing their jobs.

The answer: There has to be some inspectors that go from station to station to see if everyone is doing their jobs. If they are not, they need to be suspended for two weeks without pay. On the second offence, they need to be fired. Plain and simple. There are many people out there that would love such a easy job and will do it the right way.

The Long Island Railroad Collection Of Fares: The conductors most of the time will only check tickets at major hubs. On my trips to the Hamptons, I see people get on and off without a conductor even in site. On one recent trip, I saw around 50 people get on and off without having anyone check for a ticket. The result is I pay 46 bucks round trip peak, while others ride for free. For a few bucks more, I can ride the Hampton Jitney and get free snacks and soda without all these stops.

The answer: Make the conductors do their job, plain and simple. Every stop should have the conductor going through the cars to collect fares and tickets. More wasted money, because no one wants to do their jobs.

Ticket Agents On The Long Island Railroad: They are also obsolete. Every station has vending machines, we do not need to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to have these stations staffed.

The answer: As they retire, do not replace them. The unions are going to fight, but it is about time we told them where to go with these jobs that are not needed anymore.

Money That Can Be Made For The MTA

All our railroad stations could be making money. The Long Island Railroad, Metro North and all our other station branches could be rented out to food concessions. I can not tell you how many times, I was running to catch a train and had no time to grab some food and a coffee. Having a mini deli that sold food and newspapers and even metro cards would be a godsend to commuters. The businesses that rented the space would be responsible for keeping the station clean and servicing the bathrooms. This would allow the MTA to have a smaller cleaning force. And since most of these workers do not do their job in the first place, they will not be missed in the least.


MTA bosses ride limos: Most of the MTA bigwigs hardly use our system. They ride around the city in Limos with drivers and some with police potection all paid out of our pocket. If you work for the MTA, you need to use the MTA. If you use the transit system, you will see what has to be done to improve it.

Metro Cards: A little dirty secret the MTA does not want you to know. If you take two blank metro cards and swipe them together, the turnstiles will let you in. I see this every day. Someone will pick up off the floor discarded metro cards and swipe them and ride for free. Another dirty secret is when you see your metro card popping up and down in the bus collection system, it is charging you several times. I noticed this one time when I knew I had the correct fare and it was denied. To test my thoughts on this, I brought a new metro card and kept track on how much was left on it. When I noticed the card going up and down in the bus scanner, I checked the balance. It had charged me three times. I tested this several times, so I know this to be a fact. Fix the system so the public is not being ripped off!

MTA bathrooms: Almost every subway station in the system has a bathroom. Over the years, they will put up a sign that the bathroom is under repairs. The sign will stay up for years at a time, like the one by the #6 line in Grand Central. All of a sudden the sign will be gone and so will the bathroom. They are then used for personal bathrooms by MTA employees who have a key and never to be seen by the public again. This has happened in almost every station. Is it so much to ask, that every few stations we have a bathroom?

Fare hikes: This is just so unfair. The MTA continues to waste money everywhere and expects us to pay more to ride. They get money from the commuter, the Federal Government, the State Government and they still can not pay their bills. Now if I am with a friend and need to go somewhere, it is cheaper to ride a taxi than to deal with the subways. I am a firm believer in GOING GREEN, but the MTA fare hikes are forcing me to rethink about taking the subway and bus lines when a taxi could be cheaper. So more people will think this way and there will be more pollution because of this. More cabs on the road and more people taking them because the transit system just isn't a value anymore.

MTA Police: All the cops in the city are doing this, but let's talk about the MTA Police. Walk through the Times Square station or any other. Look at the cops that are supposed to be looking for suspicious activity. They are talking on their cell phones, not watching a thing. If you say something to a politician or the Police brass, they will tell you it's Police business. This is crap, plain and simple. New York City invested hundreds of millions of dollars on new radio systems that work in the subways. You can not tell me that a cop, standing in the corner somewhere, with no criminal in site is on his cell phone for Police business. They are talking to their wives, mistresses or boyfriends. They have no right to chat on their cellphones when they are supposed to be working. In any other job, you could not chat on the phone all the time. The Police need to be banned from using cellphones while on duty, unless it is a absolute Police emergency. It reminds me of the Times Square Bomber. Walk around Times Square and tell me how many Police officers you see talking on their cell phones. They should have been watching the streets for which they are paid for. A vendor spotted the van full of bombs in Times Square, not the Police. They were too busy talking on their cellphones, yet they had the time to take credit for quick action for the van full of bombs. If they had been watching the street for what they are being paid for, they would have spotted the van in the first place. A good cop is a cop who knows their turf, not one talking on their cell phones.

The MTA sold the public out again: The MTA has cut a deal for cellphone carriers to provide service in the subways. It is already bad enough that when you ride the bus, you have to listen to all these people calling everyone they know and they want the whole bus to listen. They yell and they scream. They have fights with so called love ones on their cellphones. They do not care who is listening. Reminds me of when cellphones first came out and I heard this Publicist talking about a client. She had no idea who I was, but I knew who she was and I listened to it all. When I got off the bus, I promptly called Richard Johnson from Page Six and told him the conversation. I am sure that publicists client was not too happy the next day with their secrets being published on Page Six. Cellphones need to be banned on subways and buses, but the MTA would rather sell out for a few bucks, than to give us a nice and quiet ride.

Post your thoughts on the MTA or your transit system below in our comment section. Would love to know what our readers think.

James Edstrom Photo By: John Martini


Anonymous said…
Powerful piece.

I am wondering if part of the failure to enforce collections is the fear of retribution directed at the fare collector?

Like to see you send this piece on to the paper and your elected city representatives.

Thanks for speaking up!
Anonymous said…
This is most uninformed piece of garbage I've ever read. You should really start to educate yourself on matters relating to transit before you speak out of your ass for 2000 words.

Start here for some smart, rational thought.
James Edstrom said…
Maybe you should stop putting out all that nice propaganda on your SITE and really see the story of waste at the MTA........