The Train: There three main types of rail transportation these are: The Subway, The Long Distance Train, and my specialty, the Commuter Rail. This write up deals with commuter trains. As for my qualifications for writing about this, I have been taking two trains almost everyday to and from school for four years.
The rail line that I am drawing from is the New Haven Line, which is owned by Metro North. The infromation can readily be applied to other New York area lines, such as the Harlem, along with rail travel in general. It is important to note that there is no universal system for trains, and the information within is meant as a general guideline that can be adapted. The underlying principles contained within seem to be universal though. (e.g. don't sit by people)
The first part of any train ride is the station. There are two:
-The Stop: The stop basically as the name implies, there is no, or little covering and it basically forces the commuter to stand outside or under a bridge or supplied overhang. These stations are found for the most part in unimportant stops, and if you are on the main New Haven line, they will not necessarily be stopped at by a train, but rather you may need a train that is scheduled for local service. This however only applies for the main line as branch lines such as the Danbury Line are composed almost entirely of stops, except for the start in South Norwalk Station and Danbury Station. These stops while normally free of undesirable company, are so for a reason, it can get very unpleasant due to weather, be it hot or really really really cold. (Trust me: it gets cold, bring your mittens). These stops may or may not have actual ticket offices, and if they do they will never be open when you need them. They will now be equipped with Automated Ticket Machines however.
-The Actual Station: Stations are travel hubs. They are the actual stations that we think of when we think of trains, be they Grand Central Station or one of Greenwich"s many. (I think there are five in that town, it"s absurd.) They are enclosed and climate controlled. However this lovely waiting environment does not come without cost, as it is full of wackos of all sorts. Public transportation is for better or worse open to all the public, and thus you will see people who creep you out, or act in a very odd manner. A station usually has a ticket office manned during normal commuting hours along with automated machines outside.
The Ticket: Recently it was decided that tickets purchased on the train would cost a bit more than those at a station. My experience with this is that it is highway robbery. A ticket that normally would cost $2.50, cost me $6.75, needless to say I suggest buying your ticket before you get on the train, and have it ready when the conductor says 'Tickets!'. It is a nice thing to do, and it's good to be nice to people who can help you out in a bind.
The Seat: There are four types of seats: the two seater, the three seater, the four group seater, and the five group seater. The unspoken rules are as follows and are understood, and expected to be, by all. They are final except if the train is packed, including other cars. If this is so you must be expected to give seats in reverse listed order. (5-4-3-2)
-A two seater: For a single person (with or without bag) or a couple
-A three seater: For two people, it is acceptable to sit with a stranger if you leave the middle seat open or with a bag, creating a buffer zone
-Four Group: This contains two seats facing each other, it is usually used for two-three people with bags. It should be given to handicap if they appear. (In my experience I have not seen a handicapped person take a train)
-Five Group: This is used by anywhere from three – five people, and baggage is usually stored on other seats.
The Ride: Basically find something to do, train seats are usually so numerous that you rarely must sit with a stranger, though you may wish to if they are attractive. You are best off if you ride with a friend, bring a book, or do your work on the morning train ride, and thus don"t have to at home. Starting conversation with others is not discouraged or encouraged, it is a situation by situation thing. If they appear bored or are givin" you the eye, you may say hi. If you are female, it is important to note you more than likely want to opt for a two seater if you are soloing as you will more likely than not be sat by a male who you would not want. (drunkard, slob, stalker, etc...)
Other Important Things:
: You will wait a lot with trains; it is just how they are. Delays
happen, and connecter trains
are usually a half hour or so later.
: I must give you this advice; never ever enter an onboard bathroom
. Ever. You can hold it, trust me. They smell rancid
and... I don"t even want to think about it
. Just don't, trust me
. I would also discourage use of station restrooms, but they can be if needed.