How to Handle Penn Station Without Popping a Xanax

How to Survive Penn Station Without Really Tryng
There's an advertisement on the subways that you might have seen. It describes a project in the works - the largest public works extravaganza in the country - known as East Side Access: a portal from Grand Central Terminal that will outsource time and trains from Penn Station. As the sign says, "Commuting will be 40 minutes shorter. For 80,000 commuters. That's a lot of minutes." 

Unfortunately, that architectural endeavor will not be done for some time and, if the 2nd Avenue Subway is any indication (shout-out to the Sandhogs!), that some time could mean years. So we're stuck with Penn Station for the time being.

Crammed in between Madison Square Garden and an underlining subway hub, the intersection of the LIRR, Path, Amtrak and Acela is a transportation nightmare for anyone trying to get somewhere fast, especially around peak hours, when tolls almost double for whatever the reason. Tourists gawk at the food options; commuters stare faceless at the Big Board; and the stampede that follows a train track appearance is something out of Jumanji.

Ever since I jumped ship from Long Island to Manhattan, I have become a master commuter and Penn Station aficionado. Babylon, Hempstead, Port Washington, parts of Jersey, the 1, 2, 3, A, C and E lines - you name it, I've ridden it out of Penn. Nonetheless, my experiences are still filled with fear, anxiety and a pace that would make Jesse Jackson look like your grandma. We all have that friend in Jersey or Long Island that insists we come visit them. With that being said, that means you have to suck it up and deal with it.

But don't be scared. We here at the Voice have compiled a list of tips to get you in and out of Penn Station safe, sound and emotionally stable.
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New Yorkers Say the MTA Is Bleeding Them Dry

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What sucks even more than commuting to work?

Having to wait longer and pay more to commute to work, that is.

Unfortunately, it looks like that's exactly what's happening in New York.

Check it out: Transportation Alternatives, a commuter-advocacy group, surveyed a bunch of New Yorkers last week to see how happy they were with subway and bus service.

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Rapping Train Conductor Plays His Heart Out on the Harmonica

Who said train conductors were mean, boring stickler-ish types shushing you in the quiet car, punching your tickets through a thinly disguised veneer of hatred, and kicking you off the train after you pee drunkenly in the vestibule? Train conductors are fun, too! Some of them are even sort of comedians. Like this guy in a video posted on YouTube yesterday. "I was born to be a clown," he says, "but I found this job instead." Indeed.

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The MTA Wants to Know About Your Subway Crush

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In preparation for a Valentine's Day event (a "Love-in-Transit Party," to be specific), at which the New York Times' Alan Feuer will read poems based on Missed Connections and Sophie Blackall of Missed Connections illustration fame will sign copies of her book, the gossip-hungry MTA is seeking tales of your transit romance. "Did you find love on a bus? Feel your heart race on a subway? Make shy eye contact on the evening commuter train?" Get in touch and tell them! If you did anything more graphic, obscene, or animalistic, tell us!

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Second Avenue Subway Construction Is Not Bad for You, Says the MTA

Ah, Second Avenue subway. We've had some ups and downs with you in the seemingly interminable time we've been waiting for your completion. You're noisy, some of us had to move because of you, there was that gross thing with the flies, and, of course, a big question has been, how sick are you making those who live in the environs of all the construction you are requiring? There's a study for that! According to the MTA's recent assessment of how all the subway blasting has impacted air quality along Second Avenue on the Upper East Side, you're not that bad.

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An Opossum Took the D Train the Other Day

Add this to your list of animals, exotic and banal, from turtle to rat to chicken to pigeon to naked human, sighted on the subway: the New York Times reports that an opossum was noted aboard a D train en route to Manhattan at 4:30 a.m. last Friday, a/k/a, Friday the 13th. The Times puts it as only the Times can:

The intrepid marsupial, which had apparently boarded after the train departed from its Coney Island terminus, had curled up beneath a seat, comfortably close to a radiator, as the train rattled through the wilds of Brooklyn.
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A Baby Was Born on a PATH Train Yesterday

A baby boy was born on a PATH train en route to Manhattan yesterday, allowing for all sorts of hilarious "express train" jokes from the dailies. Rabita Sarkar and her husband, Aditya Saurabh, New Jersey residents, hadn't expected the baby for another two weeks, but, as they say, the baby waits for no train. The couple had been on the way to the doctor to check on Sarkar's "false" labor pains, which, as it turned out, were quite real -- and they hadn't wanted to take a car lest their baby be born in it. So they took the train instead.

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Yes, You Can Pray on the Subway. Sort of.

Alex Aizenberg
As recently sighted by Alex Aizenberg on the R train between the Atlantic and Union Street stops in Brooklyn, the above, added in magic marker to a posted sign, is an exhortation to pray on the subway. (But don't smoke, litter, or blast your annoying boombox, please.) Also, don't put your feet on the chairs, or you might get arrested. Don't run, or eat, or hold the doors open, or subway surf or skylark. And, please, don't do yoga, because that's obnoxious. Praying, though...praying is O.K... Right?

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The MTA's Evening Shutdown of 4, 5, and 6 Trains For Track Repair Starts Monday

Back in November, it was announced that the MTA would implement a new measure, which they're calling "FASTTRACK," in order to repair lines that are constantly running and, it seems, constantly in need of fixing in some way or another (some of them have been around a long time, you know!). They said they'd close certain lines for repair for up to five consecutive weeknights from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., as opposed to the typical measure of shutting down lines for the weekend. And now...the first weekday evening shutdown period is upon us.

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The NYC Subway from Birth to Now, in One Gif

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Once upon a time...
It's been a good few days for subway nerdists -- earlier in the week we were all agawk over the "Lost Subways" map of NYC, which showed the subways that would have been but weren't. Yesterday we saw what happens when people stop being real and start being polite (even friendly!) on the subway. Today in subway porn, there's a gif showcasing the entire lifetime of the New York City subway, from before there even was a New York City subway, up to current day, when train routes crisscross the boroughs.

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