• 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 MACTRAXX
 
Everyone - This is an interesting subject about the future of mass transit for the remainder of the 2020s decade...

There is something that has been on my mind noticing the widespread adoption of the Work From Home
concept - taking note personally to relatives of my own who have been WFH for the better part of two years
and counting since "The Problem" began in March-April 2020...

The question is: "How long has the personal computer and internet technology been adequate enough to fully
support the Work From Home concept?"

Someone I know that has been involved with computers for many years (early 1990s) thinks Work From Home
became an option with the establishment and subsequent widespread use of high-speed internet services since
the middle 2000s - specifically the second half of that decade (2005 to 2009) meaning that WFH as we know it is
a relatively recent creation...I was thinking of the same timeframe...this reply confirms my thoughts about WFH...

What if "The Problem" occurred back before the middle 2000s? Things may have been a whole lot different
if WFH not been an option for many workers with the technology not advanced enough (think slow-speed
"dial-up" services from the late 1990s/early 2000s) for the Work From Home model to be widely successful.

Thoughts and opinions anyone? MACTRAXX
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Related: posted to the NYCTA Forum as only that agency was addressed:

new-york-times-post-covid-return-to-the ... 73882.html

To continue, I THINK this Times material is free content; if not, "sorry 'bout that":

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/202 ... cases.html

Nevertheless, this daily graph now clearly shows a "peak". Of course, it could still reverse, but there could well be "light at the end of the tunnel".

Mr. Wolf, possibly your workplace is collegial, and you want to get back as your colleagues could be considered "friends" rather than a "cabal that would cut your heart out for a buck". Be that as it may, many (thinking of a "fortysomething" attorney I know - a DINK - dual income no kids), who says she can get done in five hours home what it would take ten going to the office (eight hours plus two hours commute). She also inferred "she'd be looking around" if five days at the office again became mandatory (both she and her husband "got it and got over it").

As Mr. MAXTRAXX notes, infotech "state of the art" had not developed sufficiently for the last, SARS, highly communicable disease. "Beep Beep Boom static Deep Beep, patience" (lest you youngsters ask; Dial-Up internet) was "state..." for that '03 epidemic.

Again, for Manhattan, they're NEVER coming back - and so goes the economy built around these highly compensated workers.

While they cannot be blamed for failure to foresee COVID, Amtrak likely "way overordered" with the new Acela sets (understand several present sets are now stored) and, to a lesser extent, new Corridor equipment. Even the need for Gateway could be open to question.

All told; "ominous".
  by STrRedWolf
 
MACTRAXX wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 6:40 am Everyone - This is an interesting subject about the future of mass transit for the remainder of the 2020s decade...

There is something that has been on my mind noticing the widespread adoption of the Work From Home
concept - taking note personally to relatives of my own who have been WFH for the better part of two years
and counting since "The Problem" began in March-April 2020...

The question is: "How long has the personal computer and internet technology been adequate enough to fully
support the Work From Home concept?"

Someone I know that has been involved with computers for many years (early 1990s) thinks Work From Home
became an option with the establishment and subsequent widespread use of high-speed internet services since
the middle 2000s - specifically the second half of that decade (2005 to 2009) meaning that WFH as we know it is
a relatively recent creation...I was thinking of the same timeframe...this reply confirms my thoughts about WFH...

What if "The Problem" occurred back before the middle 2000s? Things may have been a whole lot different
if WFH not been an option for many workers with the technology not advanced enough (think slow-speed
"dial-up" services from the late 1990s/early 2000s) for the Work From Home model to be widely successful.

Thoughts and opinions anyone? MACTRAXX
I think from the turn of the century, "dialup" didn't cut it. Windows XP introduced Remote Desktop Services and the Remote Desktop Protocol client, but even with then-advanced compression schemes, you had a hard time working from remote. Virtual machines were also starting to develop.

2006 and on when cable internet became prevailent and fiber internet started to get a foot-hold, that is when you start seeing the conditions for a proper "Work From Home" deal. You could RDP into your desk at the office.

However, past 2010 you got the conditions for true deskless. VMWare ESXi came about, which allowed the desk PC to be "virtualized" and run on server hardware like it was real and separate from other office PCs. You just RDP into your office VM PC.

Now for transit? Yes, it'll cut a chunk out of transit... but I doubt it'll be very severe. I doubt we'll see more than 66-75% pre-pandemic levels on long-range rail transit.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
From a radio report on WBBM 780/105.9 this morning, I learned that, even though Chicago offices are at present only 33% occupied, foot traffic in The Loop is now at 66%. This would suggest that, even if not to work, people are still going "Downtown" for cultural, sporting, and entertainment events.

I guess with my regular attendance (about four times a season) at Chicago Symphony concerts, I add to those "stats".

As to the impact upon CTA/METRA ridership (of my two forays to the CSO thus far, one METRA, one drive - accompanied), "we report, you decide".
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
At the NYCTA Forum, there is a New York Times
article relating to the continuing impact of COVID on the NYCTA. Here is a Times article regarding an ominous outlook for the rail commuter agencies.

Fair Use:
Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than a million workers commuted into New York City every weekday.

Now, with the public health crisis entering its third year and another variant upending the rhythms of the city, employers increasingly view the five-day workweek in the office as a relic of the past, adopting more flexibility because their employees are demanding it.

The absence of office workers has dealt a brutal blow to restaurants, stores and other businesses that depend on them. But it has been particularly devastating for the public transit systems in the region, where before the pandemic more people used subways, commuter rails and buses than in any other part of the country.

In 2019, the regional transit agencies collectively carried more than 500 million passengers across the New York area, but ridership in 2021 declined by more than half of that prepandemic level.
Even at such time that the Coronavirus is deemed endemic and, like the flu shot, becomes an annual "booster" and all mandates and restrictions arising from the pandemic have been lifted, the highly compensated workers, who gave the commuter agencies often $500 for a monthly ticket, and spent discretionary income at bars, restaurants, sporting, and cultural events in "Town", are going to become Howard Beale (actor: Peter Finch) in the movie "Network" and will start screaming "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore".

Add to this the societal change experienced from COVID. Work is no longer fulfilling; it's slavery. If it can be minimized or even avoided, just do without it.

They're never coming back.

addendum: more from this Sunday's Times
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Sun Jan 23, 2022 11:05 am, edited 3 times in total.
  by GaryGP40
 
The advent of many solutions such as VMware and Hyper-V are great for certain applications of workers to use (for example about 90% of my working day is spent on a VM server somewhere else). However, certain applications that are more "beefy" (BIM and energy modeling programs, 3D visualization, etc.) really don't like being "virtual" or relying on RDP. VDI is a case for those types of applications, however companies may have people who just really *need* to work in an office because the remote isn't making them as productive.

One aspect I had wondered about was whether people were going to start asking their company to "pitch in" or even outright pay for, their Internet at home. I don't see that happening unless you're some really high up exec at a powerhouse company, but it remains what people feel they can try to "leverage". On the original vein of thought, though, high-speed Internet HAS made it possible for many to work from home, I guess it just depends on the scale of the work you are undertaking and what your expectations are. Most people I work with tend to "expect" it to be as fast as going to the office with a hardwired connection to infrastructure designed to handle that load, as opposed to sitting on their couch in their pajamas on wireless. Apples to apples, they don't compare a great deal, but still many "expect" it to.

In that case I would caution them to "expect the unexpected."

I'd be interested to see if places start making requests of people to come into the office 2-3 times or more a week as the virus dwindles. In that case, I know sabers will rattle. I've had one person tell me "there's no way in hell I am ever going back into the office." I get it, but I also expect at some point someone's going to start requesting that people be on site and 'get back to normal'. I know I was asked a while back to start coming in to take care of technical issues, check equipment and so on. I generally am in 3 days a week. My job is one where WFH is a luxury but I can't entirely WFH. So, my guess is maybe not 100% will return, but as this (I hope) fades into the rear-view mirror, people will start to want to get OUT of the house and get back to a sense of normalcy.

After omicron scared everyone, then more people got it and didn't end up on slabs in the morgue, businesses may start rethinking the WFH and, in some cases, the large amount of costs associated with beefing up data centers and office infrastructure so you can email in your pajamas.

Just my 2 cents worth (coming from an IT perspective as well)!
  by gprimr1
 
With how much work from home has developed from a technology standpoint, with more workers having laptops and the ability to work remotely, I am curious if we will see companies begin to offer benefits like counting part of your commuting time as your work day.

For example, you have a 40 minute train ride on the LIRR each way, you could work 7 hours in the office and 1 hour on the train. (I'm allowing 10 minutes to get on and settled and to pack up and get off.)
  by eolesen
 
Some of us were working remote back in the mid 2000's... VPN has come a long way.

The real gamechanger ten years ago for companies large and small was VoIP. We can run what used to be hundreds of bodies in a call center completely dispersed with WFH employees.

Today, it's cloud computing. It has allowed companies to shift large functions over to platforms like Office365, Salesforce and ServiceNow, all accesed via a basic web browser that doesn't care if you're in an office or in a campground with good wifi available. Applications that are cloud hosted can be managed and deployed from anywhere... Offshore used to mean India, but today its anywhere.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by eolesen
 

GaryGP40 wrote: ... businesses may start rethinking the WFH and, in some cases, the large amount of costs associated with beefing up data centers and office infrastructure so you can email in your pajamas.

Just my 2 cents worth (coming from an IT perspective as well)!
I'm not so sure of that. We actually closed down one of our three data centers partly due to moving functions over to the cloud, and it wouldn't surprise me if some companies have alread gotten out of having dedicated data centers.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by GaryGP40
 
eolesen wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 12:57 am

I'm not so sure of that. We actually closed down one of our three data centers partly due to moving functions over to the cloud, and it wouldn't surprise me if some companies have alread gotten out of having dedicated data centers.
There's merit to what you're saying and yes, cloud is certainly useful in reducing costs from a local data center (we still have ours only because we have a massive amount of data and it would take a long time to move it). And many cloud platforms (which also need a physical on-prem site somewhere) can be very cost-prohibitive, depending on licensing and such.

Again, I am basing my perspective more on hard core usage of CPU and memory on a local machine. BIM360 is an option as a cloud based app, but the costs are very high and you need a beefy machine to run models, etc. And, right now, most companies are working to mitigate expenses as much as they can (i don't think they ever will not be doing that!). Do I think cloud is the future? Sure. However, I am not 100% sold on cloud working for all aspects of computing. And if Google, AWS or other cloud providers get hit with "an event" that's going to cripple productivity, as opposed to having a good 'backup' strategy, that is downtime and companies have to pay people to sit around if they can't do their job. Instances are low, but I know a couple of providers just mid last year that were hit on AWS, so it happens. We shut down negotiations with one cloud app providers because they couldn't tell us that their cloud servers weren't affected. And now there's the log4j vulnerability that has IT people scrambling also.

In the long run, though, I do see cloud hardening and more companies moving to it, which will help reduce licensing costs over time. Good points, eolesen!
  by STrRedWolf
 
Before you go too gung-ho on "the cloud," take in the perspective of a cloud computing provider. It's not all that's cracked up to be.

For instance, if the cluster that forms "your cloud" goes down, your whole business gets put on pause. I don't have to look far to see instances of Amazon, Microsoft, or even Facebook throwing a spanner into the works and grinding things down to a halt.

As mentioned before, some workloads aren't suitable for virtualization. Even database servers will lose 5% of their performance when virtalized with the same "hardware" configuration. Web servers that don't crunch hard? Of course. Remote desktops? Sure....

...if they're only doing "light" office work like editing documents, reports, spreadsheets, or even Keynote/Powerpoint presentations. Even using it as a jump-off point to another system is "light". Doing development work? That's questionable, because I've seen cases where it's not all that good.

So what does this have to do with trains? Well, you'll get some staff that will go perma-WFH... and some staff that retires early. Thus why I say 66%-75% pre-pandemic. We'll probably get trains that have standing room.
  by eolesen
 
I'd be surprised if we hit 50% commuting again. My original estimate was 70% but that was assuming on a two year recovery. We are now officially in the third year, and people are talking about July as RTO?...

Work habits have changed irrevocably. People have gotten huge chunks of their day back, and won't give that up easily. And even the staunchest pre-pandemic defenders of 100% in the office have had to admit that WFH does work.

There might be brief spikes as people return, but they'll ebb back towards WFH at the first opportunity.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by GaryGP40
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 10:41 am Before you go too gung-ho on "the cloud," take in the perspective of a cloud computing provider. It's not all that's cracked up to be.

For instance, if the cluster that forms "your cloud" goes down, your whole business gets put on pause. I don't have to look far to see instances of Amazon, Microsoft, or even Facebook throwing a spanner into the works and grinding things down to a halt.

As mentioned before, some workloads aren't suitable for virtualization. Even database servers will lose 5% of their performance when virtalized with the same "hardware" configuration. Web servers that don't crunch hard? Of course. Remote desktops? Sure....

...if they're only doing "light" office work like editing documents, reports, spreadsheets, or even Keynote/Powerpoint presentations. Even using it as a jump-off point to another system is "light". Doing development work? That's questionable, because I've seen cases where it's not all that good.

So what does this have to do with trains? Well, you'll get some staff that will go perma-WFH... and some staff that retires early. Thus why I say 66%-75% pre-pandemic. We'll probably get trains that have standing room.
Agreed. I suspect that you're right about on the money with the ridership levels pre-pandemic. As it fades like a bad memory, it may start to gear up again, for those who read about this pandemic in "history books" as opposed to having lived through it. I just wonder what changes passenger trains will make, being that many of them are not making money or very little in a ridership drop?

Certainly something to watch and observe as time goes along.
  by photobug56
 
1. The Cloud. I agree with most of what's been said. There are some things it's good for, but the massive Google and AWS outages make it clear that there is a very high risk level if you need to be up full time. I like 'cloud' as a backup to direct non-public connections to vendor's data centers. For instance, colocating trading and Financial Market Data servers in the data center of an exchange or major vendor with high speed direct lines, but backed up by Internet based connections. And this can work well to put the computing resources where they do the most good and allow experts to maintain them in comparison to the half a-s job some firms do on their own.
2. I agree that many jobs will either be hybrid or remote, that commuter railroads will have fewer 'customers' going forward. I actually hate such agencies calling us customers. Their customer service tends to be awful, and hey - we are passengers. But these agencies design their new cars to be painful to ride in, often either super hot or super cold, super narrow seats that barely work in good weather, and reliability tends to be an aftersight. As much as I like going into Manhattan, eating at my favorite Chinese place and getting a great breakfast from one of the best food carts out there, the commuter rail road I use is slower now than it was it the 1890's with steam. 90 plus minutes, for instance, to go 40 miles. And the total door to door on a good day, 4 hours round trip, when it could be half of that. With my last job, the last straw was their moving the job to a suburb, which would have meant a 6 plus hour round trip. NYC area commuter railroads don't really connect different regions. It's all hub and spoke. Nothing direct. LIRR East Side Access would (if it works someday) make the trip MAYBE about 5 hours round trip. Who wants to go back to that mediocrity?

If commuter railroads want to recover, they have to start listening to passengers and meet their needs for the first time in their history. I'm not holding my breath, because they clearly have no clue nor any interest in cleaning up their act.
  by Red Wing
 
I think Hybrid will be more common. You come in once or twice a week. My employer wants the door unlocked every business day. For me I'm more willing to take the public transit option for once a week verse everyday, but I'm sure more people will use the less filled roads and switch to car.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 8