Second in a series about misleading communication on the NYC subway.
Unlike most express stops in the NYC subway system (in which the express and local tracks are on opposite sides of the same platform, making it easier to transfer from one to the other, and making it possible to take whichever train comes first if you are indifferent), Penn Station is different. The uptown and downtown express tracks are on one platform, the uptown local is on another platform, and the downtown local is on a third platform. As I understand it, this is on purpose, because Penn Station gets enough traffic as it is (with people transferring to and from commuter trains) and would rather not have the additional traffic from people transferring between the express and the local, especially when it's possible to do this at Times Square, one stop away. (The same is true for Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn.) Fine.
The subways are always screwy on weekends and holidays. Also fine - if you expect it, then it's not a surprise.
On Monday night (Memorial Day), we got back into the city at Penn Station and attempted to take the subway uptown. We didn't know whether anything would be running on the express track, because of holiday weirdness, but we had no choice but to go up to the express platform first, because the entrance to the uptown local platform was closed at the southern end, where we were coming from. Annoying, but again, not unprecedented. When we got up to the express platform, we saw a sign that said "2, 3: stopping at the local track". We thought "Wow. These people waiting on the express platform are waiting here in vain, because no trains are going to be stopping here." (This thought would have been foolish and arrogant if we hadn't been at the "vain" end of this exact situation in the past.) Just then, a 2 train started pulling up to the local track, so we went as fast as we could up the platform to the other set of stairs, down the stairs, over to the local side, and up the stairs to the local platform, but didn't make it in time. Then we saw another sign saying "1: stopping at the express track". And just then, a 1 train pulled up to the express track, and we knew we wouldn't make that one either.
WHY DIDN'T THEY PUT BOTH SIGNS ON BOTH PLATFORMS? Unlike the previous subway rant, it doesn't seem that anyone benefits from this, other than a tiny fraction of a tree.
Also, if you're a subway operator and the people on your train had to wait 15 minutes before the train came, don't bother pressing the button for the "We are experiencing delays due to train traffic ahead of us" message. You're not fooling anyone. There aren't any entrance ramps ahead where trains are merging in.
I'll still miss New York.