• Will They Ever Return?

  • This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.
This forum will be for issues that don't belong specifically to one NYC area transit agency, but several. For instance, intra-MTA proposals or MTA-wide issues, which may involve both Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Other intra-agency examples: through running such as the now discontinued MNRR-NJT Meadowlands special. Topics which only concern one operating agency should remain in their respective forums.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by photobug56
Days before the lockdown. And I keep up very closely to what's been going on with it since.
  by daybeers
  by photobug56
Have you ever commuted to NYC?
  by eolesen
photobug56 wrote:Have you ever commuted to NYC?
Commute, no. Been a resident and forced to use it on occasion?... yep. Really don't miss the smell of urine with 90% humidity...

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by photobug56
I used transit daily for years, later commuted for more. TA and LIRR.
  by lensovet
I didn't visit the NJT concourse much before the pandemic, but it was pretty full yesterday at 5.

Keystone was about 50% full leaving Penn.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Apparently, Amtrak, the developers, and Gov. Kathy, are all placing their bets "they will":

New York Times

Fair Use:
In a bid to reshape Midtown Manhattan, Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York State officials are pushing ahead with one of the largest real estate development projects in American history: 10 towers of mostly offices around Penn Station, the busiest transit center in the country.

The buildings would help pay for the renovation of the dreary underground station; the reason officials have said they are seeking the additions to the skyline. But the plan is moving forward amid severe uncertainty gripping the office market: Many companies are trying to reduce their real estate footprint as workers continue to clock in from home
Honestly from out here, when I observe the nearly empty METRA's when I take my morning walk, the number of Loop restaurants that still have reduced hours or have outright closed, I have my doubts.
  by eolesen
Office space near a core transit hub like Penn will probably always be desirable, but I'm going to guess that the most likely targets for signing a lease are going to be already holding space in older buildings, so it's not going to be a net gain of people coming into the city by any measure.

I'm also going to guess those companies signing leases will be on the hook for 50% or less of the space they're vacating.

Drove by two nearby Metra close-to-the-station lots this morning after dropping my granddaughter at her non-public school.

Both were 25% full at 0800, which is when the last express runs head into the city.

In "the good old days" those lots would be full by 0730 and people forced to use the more distant lots.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Rail is not mentioned within this Journal article, but it does provide insight to that "there's something happening out there" that will please Mr. Wolf, the commuter rail agencies. and the business district's restaurants and "watering holes".

Fair Use:
Labor Day marks the line in the corporate sand.

Many company leaders say the end-of-summer holiday represents the best chance to finally lean on workers to return to the office this year.

After months of encouraging white-collar employees to return, or attempting to coax them back with free pizza, warm cookies and catered lunches, many executives now say they feel emboldened to take a tougher stance. No longer can workers merely come to the office if they so choose; this fall, executives say, attendance is expected and the office resisters will be put on notice.

Employers including Apple Inc., Prudential Financial Inc. and BMO Financial Group plan broader September returns at their U.S. offices. Some companies, such as Ally Financial Inc., have sent notes in recent weeks reminding workers to come into the office consistently. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it was lifting all vaccination and other requirements to enter most of its offices after Labor Day, eliminating a final barrier to a full return.
  by photobug56
Goldman employees now have a great reason to look for new jobs. As to the other firms, the bosses continue to enjoy great benefits - like being able to afford a very nice apartment near the office, being driven to and from work, catered or expense account lunches, offices where the next employee isn't 3 feet away, while most workers have, given how expensive Manhattan and much of NYC now is, 1 to 3 hour commutes each way on broken down railroads or buses or both, no where affordable to get breakfast or lunch, sitting super close to the next employee, much less filtered air. Not quite sweatshops but unhealthy and expensive to get to and be in. Plus, of course, much lower productivity. But hey, incompetent, arrogant management needs to assert their importance and authority, which is much easier to do in person.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Here's a non-rail Washington Post article specifically directed towards Goldman's RTO initiative immediately addressed by Mr. Photobug:

Fair Use;
On Wall Street, the pandemic is over, at least according to bosses
Citing lower risk from the virus, firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan are dispensing with covid protocols.
  by eolesen
The problem with taking these hard stance/ultimatum positions is that there are still a lot of companies willing to hire good qualified employees away with the draw of work from home. For some, working from home is becoming more important than a decent 401k match.

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  by STrRedWolf
When I initially wrote my prediction of a 75% return to office, my thought was "Okay, folks will come back to a same-or-similar environment."

In this case, though, it is a radically different environment. I did not expect a different economic environment than what we have now: high inflation jacking prices up for everything (which is now starting to taper off, but the supply chain is still a mess), which in turn highlights the current pay and lack of raising the minimal wage rate, and that hiring in the freight rail industry takes ages to get training done. RM Transit also highlighted an issue where a lot of transit systems are set up to fail -- radial lines with not enough redundancy and the effort to reduce costs by reducing frequency and lengthening trains... when the opposite has to happen.

Take that in mind, plus train schedules that reach two hours long... and a cost twice that of working down here in Baltimore... yeah, my salary of $87k (at time of writing) better double if I'm working up in NYC and they want me to commute into it.

That gets into what I'm now thinking. NYC is *expensive*, period... and I bet as expensive as in major California cities around LA and Silicon Valley. Some of the more younger companies (like Dropbox and even my employer) are embracing the WFH concept (namely because it saves on office rental cost). Older companies (like Goldman Saks) may own the building they work out of.

Right now? We're at 60%-ish across the board in NYC. I now think we'll see lawsuits and some more shifting of office dynamics first, and getting to 75% daily will take... I want to say 5 years. It's definitely going to go slow, and some people will never return.

There is one benefit, though: The end of standing room only on the commuter rail... for a while at least. ;)
  by photobug56
An LIRR EB train I rode, transfer up and over at Jamaica (and Heaven help you if you don't know where to be on the train because there's barely enough time to do it if you get it just right) took about 80 minutes for 40 miles. And it's not the worst by far. This is part of the Long Island problem - trains are very slow. Lots of time not moving or moving very slowly, and when things are 'fast' we're talking maybe bursts of 60 mph. It's not the fault of the junk they use, though that doesn't help. We were lucky - no DM transitioning problems on the way in, but we missed the last EB direct train - 4:49PM. That may get better with the ESA based schedules in a few months, but then there will be far less service from Penn. Plus, diesel country riders will ALWAYS have to transfer to get to GCT, and with all the extra capacity we will still have zero reverse commute capacity. 3 to 4 hours between trains inbound in the PM last I checked. LIRR wants to make it very clear to us 2nd class citizens that we will get zero advantage from the changes other than the ability to change at Jamaica to go to or from GCT, but from what I could tell, late rush hour service on my line will be nearly non existent. If, say, you pick Penn, and have a problem, you'll never make it to GCT to get a train there, and vice versa.

LIRR is making it very clear to riders on certain lines that they are not wanted. Now PW passengers did it to themselves by opposing LIRR yard plans, but diesel riders are pure victims.

BTW, after Gov Hokum did her big thing about how nice Penn is now, I got to see it the other day. It's still a demolition zone and a dump, and signage is hit or miss. On platforms, they are still missing basic signage for elevators and escalators. Our trip the other day made it clear - LIRR would be just as happy to run empty trains.

On a separate note, on the 8:11 wb out of East Northport on Friday, the conductor we saw (toward East end of the train) did not have a mask. About 60% of passengers were masked. For someone like me with respiratory and other issues including being immune suppressed, that's not a way to get us back.
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