International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train
By Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum
Columbia University Press (April 2017)
Reviewed by Dominique Jean-Louis
This summer has been a hard one for the MTA. In early June, a nursing student on his way to graduation, dressed in his cap and gown, missed the ceremony due to train delays that made him three hours late. Sympathetic (and similarly delayed) fellow passengers threw him an impromptu graduation, with one person pulling up a picture of a diploma to present to him on a cell phone. Another played classic graduation jam “Good Riddance” by Green Day on a speaker, while the other passengers looked on, smiling.
The following week, in an incident less heartwarming but more disturbing, an F train lost power while underground, trapping passengers for 45 minutes underground with no lights or air conditioning. With elderly and pregnant passengers forced to endure temperatures climbing above 100 degrees, and all the smells of a packed rush hour train, tensions and tempers flared. To add insult to injury, even as the train finally made it to the station, riders were forced to wait another ten minutes for the packed subway platform to clear before they were released, while onlookers took iPhone photos of their misery through the train’s steamed-up windows. At the end of the month, New York governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the struggling MTA.
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