Sunday, October 22, 2017

Confusing elevator buttons @MTA

I tweeted about this before, but that didn't change anything.  I also really want to get into more detail how the elevator buttons at the Times Square Subway Station in NYC are confusing.  This elevator is one of the most heavily used elevators in the world, I suspect.

The Times Square Subway Station accesses at least 12 different subway lines.  People who use the elevator have to figure out which level corresponds to which lines -- but you can't.

Virtually every time I get into this elevator there are people who are confused.  *

Here are the buttons
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Now, in a better world, these buttons would be labelled, from top to bottom


  • N, Q, R, W, S and uptown 1, 2, 3
  • downtown 1, 2, 3
  • A, C, E & Port Authority Bus Terminal [through a 1/4 mile tunnel that includes a ramp that is too steep to be considered wheelchair accessible]
  • 7

Labelling, a floor "mezz," short for mezzanine, is totally meaningless.  How is a tourist, or an older person who is becoming confused, supposed to figure that out?  Normally, they probably think of a mezzanine as the floor in a hotel where there's a nice lounge.  You're not going to find that in the NYC subway.

"7 AVENUE PLATFORM" -- how would anyone guess that the MTA thinks that the downtown 1, 2, and 3 are the 7th avenue train?  They're only on this avenue for part of their route.  Also, again, it's only the downtown trains that are on this platform.  The uptown trains have to be accessed via the upper mezzanine and a second elevator.  Also, for someone who doesn't know where they're going, the number 7 on this might be confusing, because they might think it refers to the number 7 train.

The tunnel on the lower mezzanine is really a very useful thing, if you're not in a wheelchair.  It takes you over to 8th Avenue without having to outside.  You avoid traffic.  You avoid getting rained or snowed on.  It's perfectly good for strollers and wheeled luggage.  But it's not useful if you don't know what it leads to: just lower mezzanine.  Above ground, the MTA advises people to use the street to get to the 1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, W, & S if they're near the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  That doesn't make sense to me.  The tunnel is a wonderful resource. Maybe even someone in a wheelchair might use it if someone strong would help them.

"Flushing Platform" has become out of date.  The number 7 train also now goes to the Hudson Yards, to the west, not just Flushing to the east.  But for the casual tourist, what is Flushing anyway?  That's sort of obscure for non-New Yorkers.  Wouldn't they be more likely to recognize the word "Queens?"  The 7 doesn't just go to Flushing to the east.  It has a number of other stops in Queens.

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*footnote
I personally use this elevator quite often, because my neurologist advised me not to wear a backpack or carry a heavy purse, because of my disk issues.  She told me to get wheeled luggage, so I go everywhere with a shopping trolley.  This is actually a medical condition that makes me do it, so I try to take an elevator when I can, to avoid carrying the trolley up and down stairs.  Because I'm in there so often I observe how people are riding up and down the elevator several times, because they're not sure which floor to get off on.

Hike up Mt Beacon -- warning very gross

On October 22, I hiked up to the overlook on Mt. Beacon.

Let's start out with the pretty pictures that I posted on FB.


You can click on this to get a better idea of what I saw that was pretty.

Now for the bad part.  Warning some of this was gross. You might not want to read the rest of this blog.  I'm just warning you.

First, there was a problem getting there.  I was looking for Mt. Beacon on Google maps.  Instead Google insisted on trying to send me to something called Beacon Mountain in Fishkill.  I'm not sure if that was the same thing or not.  In any case, Google maps wanted to take me up a road called Mt Beacon Monument Road.  I was unable to find this road, only driveways in the area where it wanted me to turn.


I certainly didn't see any "Base Camp Bed & Breakfast," which should have had a sign if it was an extant business.  Anyway, I got better directions from this website:

http://hikethehudsonvalley.com/mt-beacon/

They sent me to a parking lot that I had passed without much thought blindly following Google maps to a dead end on a private road.

It looked like the parking lot had overflowed, but when I went in there, at about 2:30, there were spaces.  I guess some people had left.

Now this parking area is very nicely provided with 3 chemical toilets.  This turns out to be important.  When I'm hiking in NH, we use the woods; but this trail is very heavily used -- being in the NYC metro area -- and the woods are pretty open -- not much underbrush -- so going off behind a bush is not such a great option.  Plus, of course, this is a high Lyme Disease area, so going off the trail is not such a great idea.  Therefore it's a really, really good idea to have chemical toilets at the trailhead.

But -- these toilets are apparently serviced on a MWF schedule, which is fairly frequent




OK, very nice try guys.  UM -- but this is Sunday -- and it's a lovely warm weekend and the place is overflowing.  And the fact that the toilets were serviced on Friday is just not cutting it; no toilet paper and ... [you might not actually want to look at this picture.  I wish there were a way of making it peek-a-boo on this blog, where you wouldn't have to look at it unless you click on it, but I don't know how to do that.]




Um. Yeah.

And, also, they have very nicely provided a trash can.  Again, this is important for a heavily used trail in the NYC metro area.  It appears that this trash can is probably emptied on the same schedule.



Now, again, this is a very heavily traveled trail -- and there are a lot of people on it.  Some of those people have worn some short cuts and some long cuts: lots of trails all over the place.  Sometimes it's hard to see what trail is a real trail and what trail is a short cut.

In any case, near the Overlook, which was my destination -- since I started too late to go up to the fire tower -- there was something that looked like a trail going up to the ruins of the building on top of the old train line.  It wasn't really a trail.  It was a 'short cut'.  

As I got closer to the ruined building, the short cut got quite steep with slippery loose rocks.  I put my hand down on a pile of rocks to steady myself.  This loosened an object composed of at least two bricks and mortar.  This object had originally been part of the now ruined building.  This object struck my leg.  Even though I was wearing long pants, I got some nasty scratches.


After that, I was much more careful to stay on what seemed to be the trail.

When I got down, I wanted to find out who was maintaining this trail, so I went to the bulletin board and found a QR code


Now, I've gotten a bit savvy with QR codes. I have a QR code on my resume that leads to my updates blog -- and I've got a QR code reader app on my cell phone -- so I was excited to demonstrate my prowess with my QR code app.  Unfortunately, the link that this QR code leads to seems to be broken.  All I could get, despite trying three times, was


Not very helpful.

Still there were a few useful things on this bulletin board, which I'm going to put here so that I can find them again easily if I need to.  As usual, if you want to see these images larger, you should click on them..




A couple more notes.  

I could really see what a bad drought we're having.  Everything was dry as a bone.  I got a fire danger warning on my e-mail last week.  I'm not quite sure how I ended up getting weather alerts e-mailed to me, but somehow I get them.  I hope we don't end up like northern California.

Also, the website said that the roundtrip to the overlook should take 1.5 hours.  Right.  As usual, I'm slow and it took me over 2 hours -- though it must be said that I spent quite a bit of time talking to people about my Vibram five fingers hiking shoes, which I love, and which everyone is curious about.