Manhattan Project

The trumpet of the swan: How I beat the MTA in 5 easy steps

August 24, 2009
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291974774_b5653f720dOn the 59th Columbus Circle stop, down the urine soaked stairwell with its freshly Windex-ed Hearst Corporation billboard, I silently curse the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Rambling and unwieldy, the MTA is a bottomless money pit with a racked up debt to the tune of $26.8 billion. In fact, it’s an apt byproduct of our excessive capitalist system, thanks to its boom-and-bust crisis mode. The love spawn of Milton Friedman and a Chicago School bukakke, I say! But sometimes, I think the pastoral squalor of the Queens bound E train is the sexiest thing I have ever seen in my life. Especially with the ratty whirr of a sloth-cloth air conditioner and luscious leftover juices from a clogged track chute.

The  MTA is paved with shattered working-class dreams, dashed Dunkin’ Donuts flatbread sammiches and random grubby pamphlets from apocalypse-twiddlin’ Christians. In the history of MTA clusterfuckery, the Republicans and Republican-lites way up thar in Albany set aside bundles of cash baggies for upgrades and the like. Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomy throws us salivating pleebs an election year bone, as we lick our lips and thank our massers for pretending to give two shits. Yezzur, we’ll shine them shoes sure ’nuff. We’ll get right on that, masser…and so it goes.

Everyone expects their piece of the pie, by Carl, not realizing that their near 100 bucks monthly Metrocard will deliver scattershot weekend service and crumbling ceiling collapses. Since my curmudgeonly Millienial gevalting is usually repressed, I’ve got nothing to lose in the shysterin’ the MTA department. (I know, I know, quitters don’t quit in America!) Here’s a blurby primer for circumventing the MTA. Please note: some of these suggestions deliver the possibility of hefty fines ($100) and arrest for fare evasion. But I say: why let a little thing like the penal system stop you? If history is your guide, you’ll be in fine company: Malcolm X, MLK, and yes, Gary Glitter!

Ikea buses: You’ll be ridin’ the public transportation dirty in style with uppercrust and coach-style buses. Granted, the Red Hook shuttle service is rather limited in its reach (read: Court St., Fourth Ave., Smith, Ninth Sts subway stations and the Beard St. Ikea store.) But don’t let a little thing like shopping in a Swedish furniture store stop you. The Brooklyn News found that most riders never set foot in the Ikea, save for two Ikea employees. Sez Bianca Colon, “”It’s like a free car service. It takes us straight downtown and I don’t have to wait for the bus to stop every block to let people on and off.”

Freegan Bikes: The wooly insurgents hold monthly bike workshops for how-tos on fixing bikes, simple maintenance and tune-ups. A life without complications: leave the This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb bumper stickers at home, kids. The po pos can not tell the difference between pop cultural references and honest to God terrorism.

Date A Cripple: Yes, disabled boyfies come with perks, including the clandestine sneak-in behind emergency-exit-cum-disability-doors. I know, I know, the downside to this recommendation is looking like a heartless bastid. Obvious protip: Milk the boothers dry with the prolonged door hold for a hint of doe-eyed, hapless Good Samaritan stranger. As a general rule of thumb, check unlatched exit doors for easy access.

Disengage the simulator: The stuff of urban legend goodness. Hey rabblerousers and blusterbrowns of all ages, guess if this tip is an outdated has-been. Apparently, the myth goes that bending the Metrocard in just the right place demagnetizes the black strip. In the early 00s, this trick left the MTA with a gnawing void, and efforts to crack down on these muzzeins became the cause de jour. Sez 3tmk, “A friend of mine always tried to bend his card when riding the subway, but it never worked. He’s wasted quite a lot of cards, and he never made it. I’m sure with some luck some guy achieved success, but with a lot of luck to find the exact spot.” BTW, this tip may lead to run-ins with the fuzz.

Pay It Forward…literally: Whenever I hear the phrase “pay it forward,” I automatically dredge up memories of that fuzzy wuzzy sub-Lifetime flick starring Kevin Spacey and the kid from The Sixth Sense. The sight of disgruntled Brooklyn-ites swiping straphangers through turnstiles would make the follicles on Jesus’ beard stand on end. That’s where the People’s Transportation Program comes in. On the third Saturday of every month, this Sunset Park collective doles out the freebie swipes. The best thing about this tip: it’s technically not against MTA regs. “As long as they’re not charging people [for swipes], we can’t stop them from buying the cards and providing the service free to the people,” MTA spokesperson Paul Fleuranges told The Indypendent in a June 2009 article.

Creative Commons: John&Julie C

Further reading: Anti-capitalist actions around mass transit in San Francisco 1993-1995


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