Plumb Lines

May 5, 2009

The Napoleon of the Sixth Avenue Local

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Schaengold @ 1:52 pm

It’s hard to believe this is a good idea, but it’s eminently Chestertonian:

NYC Transit this summer will put a general manager in charge of each lettered line, expanding a program some credit with improving the on-time performance on the IRT or numbered routes.

I know very little about the MTA system relative to other American transit networks, but it’s hard to imagine that this won’t create a huge amount of bureaucratic redundancy. This redundancy would be worth it, in my view, if the lines also developed their own liveries, characteristic virtues and vices, and signalling codes. Ideally, line-loyalty will spread even to New York’s commuting masses, who will begin to move into neighborhoods so as to be near the A, not that hated B, and who will walk miles out of their way to avoid the cursed Canarsie Express.

Boulder, CO actually developed a more light-hearted version of this idea, and it’s working well. They have lines named Hop, Skip, Jump, Bound, Bolt, Dash and Stampede. In general, even though it seems irrational to the committees who decide such things, a transit system with named lines, like London, is more user-friendly than a system with letters and numbers, like New York’s, or colors, like Chicago’s.

David Schaengold

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