Brooklyn

My train has been Dikembe Mutombo’d

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No one wants to be rejected.  The feeling of having your ideas panned or your heart broken is not a pleasant one.  Rejection can make you do all kinds things. You might withdraw. You might contemplate your place in the universe.  You might creatively use the name of a retired NBA player known mostly for blocking shots and sounding a bit like a Sesame Street character to show your displeasure for your streetcar system not getting built.

Our request for streetcar project was Dikembe Mutombo’d. So recapping, 0 for SI and $2.5 billion for other places pic.twitter.com/c0X8p9JxJL

— Jimmy Oddo (@HeyNowJO) February 4, 2016

Dikembe Mutombo’d = RE-JECTED!

Well played, Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. Well played.

Oddo’s feeling of rejection was in response to news that Mayor DiBlasio wants to build a streetcar line connecting Queens and Brooklyn near the East River.  We know BDB does not want his QBX plan Manute Bol’d rejected.  But, where to go for some advice?  Cue the New York Times, with a rather glowing article about a successful light rail line to use for inspiration.

Was it in Europe or Asia?  Nope.  Minneapolis or Charlotte have newer systems, how about them?  Nope.

How about that transit juggernaut just across the Hudson.  Huh.  Huh.  I am talking about New Jersey and New Jersey Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.

The two billion dollar, 17-mile system runs parallel to the Hudson River through some of the most population-dense cities in the country.  Its ridership is growing and has helped spur growth along the route.  Look at Hoboken’s westside and Weehawken.  But, the HBLR, for all its “sleek cars” that “glide” on rails and that it is getting “increasingly popular”, it has its issues that the Mayor can learn from.  Here’s my top four:

#1:  Its fare box recovery is terrible

At 33%, if it were not not for the Newark Light Rail and the Trenton-Camden RiverLINE (what the then director of NJT called “the poster child for how not to plan and make decisions about a transit investment.”), HBLR would be the worst in NJ.  Part of the reason is #2.

#2:  It uses the honor system for its fares

Unlike the New York City subway system or the PATH trains, the HBLR does not have fare gates.  And, unlike commuter rail, there are no conductors punching or checking every ticket.  Like a lot of Light Rail systems, it uses a proof-of-purchase system.  You buy a ticket and then punch it in a ticket validator that stamps the time on your ticket.  Ticket checkers will hang out at the station or on a train and check you ticket from time to time.

#3:  Weekends to Hoboken: Nope

If it is Saturday or Sunday and you live north of Hoboken Terminal, there are no HBLR trains to Hoboken Terminal.  You can go to Newport.  You can go to 2nd Street in Hoboken. But, you cannot take the HBLR to the busiest train station in New Jersey without transferring.

#4:  And speaking of missed connections

The HBLR is an NJT property.  Its biggest connections for rush hour commuters into NYC are the PATH and NJ Waterways Ferry.  While you can buy a combo ticket with NY Waterways, NJT has no combo or ticket reciprocity with PATH.  Wouldn’t one ticket be nice?

The Bar Car: Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

20141008_163753_resized_1The beer selection at the Grand Central Rite-Aid is like a high school reunion; a lot of familiar faces but very few people you’d really want to hang out with for any extended period of time. But, sitting in the ballroom corner of this romp down memory lane is that girl who moved from the city to your town the middle of junior year. You never talked to her until well after college. You were too busy chasing the ones who seemed exciting because they rode clydesdales or came from the Rockies. A few years after college, you would occasionally bump into her at a bar and when you were finished chatting with Sam (because that’s what adults drink) you might get brave and actually say hello.

Ok, there was no exotic city girl.  There were never any girls. Right, Olaf?

It was Brooklyn’s East India Pale Ale.

Now, years later, IPA’s are everywhere. Everywhere. Even the cooler at the Rite Aid is home to an IPA. Is Brooklyn’s perfect? No, but that is the beauty of it. It does not have to be. It is an honest to goodness IPA dropped off in a strange flourcently lit land. A land with a plethora of slightly-beer-flavored beverages with names that may remind you of ladies you may encounter at a bachelor party, like Ultra, High Life, Blue Ribbon or Light Lime. You eye them; their price point is tempting at less than two bucks for a tall boy. But you know better. Olaf knows the answer.

But, you should say yes to the Brooklyn East India Pale Ale. It is solid, but not outstanding. It is not as hoppy as I prefer but better than the rest in the Rite-Aid fridge. I mean, if you think you can get the high life from a can of $2 beer, listen to Olaf again.

Stats:

Type: IPA

Where I got it: The Rite Aid inside Grand Central near the main entrance ramp

What I paid: Less than $3

Grade: Four happy beer guys

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