Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

No Subway? New Yorkers Devise Plan B Commutes ; with a Mass-Transit Strike Looming, Residents Dust off Rollerblades and Study Ferry Schedules

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

No Subway? New Yorkers Devise Plan B Commutes ; with a Mass-Transit Strike Looming, Residents Dust off Rollerblades and Study Ferry Schedules

Article excerpt

Getting to work in New York during the best of times can be an adventure: The subways resemble human sardine cans, abusive cabdrivers careen through the streets, and some New Yorkers consider walking a contact sport.

But on Monday, the commute could get really nasty: The nation's largest city may be facing a transit strike that results in millions of residents saddling up their bicycles, slipping into their Rollerblades, or hopping into strangers' cars. The bridges leading into the city will resemble a giant wing-tipped walkathon. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is planning to buy a bicycle, is calling on New Yorkers use their "ingenuity" so almost anything is possible.

That's why Brooklyn resident Lauren Packard is studying the ferry schedule to get to her job as a teacher in Harlem. Public-relations executive Philip Baltz is thinking about driving around the city to pick up his five employees. And Pablo Narvaez, a salesman at retailer Kenneth Cole, is considering just looking for another job closer to his Bronx residence.

Indeed, Mayor Bloomberg warns that a subway strike at this time of year, Christmastime, could be a disaster for the city's economy. Some estimates put the cost at anywhere from $100 million to $350 million a day. He worries that lives will be lost because ambulances or firetrucks won't be able to get through jammed streets.

So no vehicle will be allowed into Manhattan without at least four people in it. "I'm sorry. There are only a certain [number] of roads.... We just don't have the luxury of having cars come in the city without using them to the maximum efficiency that we can," Bloomberg says.

This won't be the first time New Yorkers have met one another as they walk to work. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) struck in the winter of 1966 when a fiery leader by the name of Mike Quill asked the subway motormen and bus drivers to hit the bricks.

"He was very militant in the old style, very confrontational," says Kathleen Hulser, public historian at the New-York Historical Society.

Then, 20 years later, in April 1980, the TWU walked out again, this time for 11 days. …

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