MY RAILROAD HEAVYWEIGHT CAR PASSENGER EXPERIENCE

FORWARD: 

1977-1978 and President Carter Administration’s economic effects of the “gas crisis”, inflation, and unemployment double-digits had me in its grasp. The new employment at Wordstream (the first full page video display monitor of a document for editing) was located in NYC on 3rd Ave/44th St. The mile walk north from the apartment north to Route 22 in Westfield, NJ to “catch the bus” at 7:00am was “real” fun. No sidewalk, therefore snow banks and cars provided an eye-opener that coffee could not compete with, during the trek. The bus: Crowded, but always a “desirable” seat or three. I remember heavy garlic, excess passenger overhang seat encroachment, and lively passenger repartee.

Route 22 would merge with Interstate 78. The bus lanes had access to the Lincoln Tunnel via the 270° Jersey City “fun circle” with eventual deposit into the NY City Port Authority Bus Terminal over on 8th Ave/42nd Ave. What a Morning Treat as the pimps, drug dealers, scammers, 3-card Monte players, beggars, etc. were already in full force to ply their daily activities. It was a great neighborhood, as buying a stick of gum from the local stationary vendor through the plastic window with the speaker, heightened the overall morning experience.

OK, great here we are in Manhattan. Proceed/walk east on 42nd St across Midtown, about 20 minutes to 3rd Ave. The fun part was dodging the “porn hawkers” with the coupons (need you ask?) they almost thrusted upon you at the 42nd St./Broadway locations. Ah, but the next fun locale was the NY Public Library at 42nd St./5th Ave. The property around the library had become a camping ground for the homeless/drug dealers and thus another obstacle to circumvent. Note: My briefcase carried throughout this hike was, perhaps, viewed as a weapon, as used on two occasions. Sidebar: Thanks to Mayor David Dinkens for allowing the city to become a cesspool. 

Finally, with a sigh of relief, we arrive at work at about 8:50am. Refreshed and ready to go! Thank you for reading this far, as no railroad information has appeared as of yet. 

THE HEAVYWEIGHT ANECDOTE:

Hmm, perhaps another mode of commuting to NY City from Westfield, NJ might be quicker, easier, or less expensive? Hike one mile south to the Westfield CNJ rail station and give it a try. Seems a good idea on the surface, yes? The timetable indicates that the c.7:00am will do the trick for the “test run”. You guessed it; late. No big deal, I’ll just subtract the delay from the next time I use CNJ. (I’m so naïve at the time.) 

Nice cars: The seating was poor (Bamboo/wicker seats, I think as I recall, forgive me), dirty (LIRR coaches were clean by comparison), ventilation/AC a horror, and the ride a spine-jolt joy. We pull out of Westfield and proceed east to Cranford Jct. (a mere 3 miles) at a LIRR style “HALL Interlocking crawl”.  Now by way of history, the CNJ no longer went to their abandoned ferry terminal on the Hudson River, but used the Aldene Plan: http://www.trainsarefun.com/rvrr/cranfordjunction/cranfordjunction.htm#RVRR-Aldene  diversion, via the  LVRR, tracks to the Newark, NJ Penn Station.

GETTING THERE: 
Yup, and a headache for the poor commuter as well, trapped in the heavyweight tomb. Well, perhaps you guessed it by now: Slow, not-on-time, missed connections at Penn Station, Newark, NJ to Penn Station, NY. Note: What genius named the Newark, NJ station also Penn Station? 
So, I finally arrive at Penn Station, NY. Hmm… Subway 1-2-3 north to Times Square 7, or Cross town Shuttle S east to Grand Central at Park Ave/42nd St. Great, only a few blocks walk more to the office.

EPILOGUE: 
And, oh yes, all the CNJ fun, cost a “wee” bit more money/time/energy to get to the office. Needless to say, my rail commuting experience came to an abrupt halt. Suffice to say, the “magic” of rail travel sure left its scars, in comparison to the sanity of the “sleepy” bus ride to the Port Authority, Manhattan.  Steven Lynch