Week of July 13-19, 2012

Riders this week: 19,999

Rider miles this week: 199,998


Republican hopeful Mitt Romney, headed from one fundraiser to another, took the subway Saturday afternoon from Southampton to East Hampton accompanied by 106 aides, four accountant and eight secret servicemen. They, together with the press corps, took up two whole cars. And our Commissioner, Bill Aspinall, allowed that the whole thing would be for free. They went in through the EXIT doors, rather than go through the turnstile. We’re told Mitt Romney raised $3 million while here. What happens to that money if somebody else becomes the official Republican candidate?


A letter writer (see letters to the editor in this issue on page xx) has pointed out to us that the number of riders and the number of rider miles posted at the top of this report seem to refer to the upcoming week rather than the week that has passed. This is the first time in the three years we have been publishing this newsletter that anyone has pointed this out to us, so obviously they misunderstand the words we used up at the top. So it’s been perhaps two million readers ok and this one not. Nevertheless we are reviewing this wording.


A group calling themselves the 99%, left off protesting against Mitt Romney on Saturday afternoon and came to our Hampton Bays headquarters to protest the power spraying of the tunnels the subway does once a month during the wee hours of the night when the subway system is closed. The protesters claim that the power spraying uses a chemical that has not been approved by any sanctioning body anybody knows of and some of it is still in the air as soap particles when the subways reopen in the morning at 7 a.m. “Who knows what’s in there?” one protester said. “It smells like Ivory soap but how can we be sure?”


During this upcoming week, all passengers using Hampton Subway will have to show picture ID before they are allowed to use the turnstiles. This is not as a result of Mr. Romney being here. Mr. Romney is long gone. Nor is it about any terrorism threat. It’s a check to be sure that none of our riders is Old Man McGumbus, 107, of Shelter Island, who last week came down to the Sag Harbor platform carrying a shotgun, a bedroll, a backpack full of canned food and a bottle of water and set up camp there. “I heard the sirens,” he said at that time. “There’s a nuclear attack coming.” After a four hour standoff with the subway police—during which our ridership numbers declined—he agreed that the All Clear had sounded and it was safe to go back up to the street. “The British didn’t have this problem with the subway during the Blitz,” he said as he went up the Up escalator. Apparently the subways were where the English went during the Second World War. Mr. McGumbus is now banned from using the subway.


The G Line, which for the last year took passengers from our Sag Harbor station to Foxwoods via a long underwater and underground tunnel has been shut. Its demise was expected. Originally, it was supposed to go in a straight line under Long Island Sound from Sag Harbor to Connecticut, but when oil was discovered under Long Island Sound, a long circuitous detour tunnel had to be dug to get around it. The length of this detour—it went west along the north shoreline of Long Island and only was able to cross to Connecticut near Port Washington before heading west to Foxwoods, lengthened the time of the trip from 30 minutes to five hours. Though we allowed gambling on the G Line toward the end, ridership didn’t improve. In the end, it only had one trip a day up and back so either you were on it or you weren’t. The cause of the closing, however, was due to something else. Even the hardcore passengers could see they’d rather take the new ferry from Sag Harbor to Greenport and back to have fun for the day. As the handwriting was on the wall, Commissioner Aspinall ordered the G Line (G for gambling) closed.


It’s been an exhausting week. First Mr. Romney, then the protests, then Old Man McGumbus, then the closing of the G Line. I’m off to the South of France for a few days.



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