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Dear MTA….

February 16, 2012

Dear MTA,

I just want you to know that, for as much as I love and appreciate you,  there is definitely room for improvement.  I love you because I’m a bad driver and can’t drive a car anywhere but on a lone country road; I love you because I am allergic to all buses except the Hampton Jitney.

But I don’t love that I have to wait forever for your trains to arrive, that I  get motion sickness as I get jostled around a noisy car, that I sometimes have to wait for another train because rush hour means that all the cars are full.

I want you to know that I’ve  taken subway systems  elsewhere besides New York, and they’ve been a way better experience. The London Tube, my first subway experience? Interesting, from what I remember, but then again I was only 14.  Washington, D.C.’s Metro? Clean, empty, with subway cars like an actual railroad and elevator music playing in the vast (if poorly lit) stations.  The Paris Metro? OK, maybe that experience was generally dirtier, smellier and unbearably hot in the summertime, but at least the trains arrive more frequently and there are vending machines at the stations.

But of all the subterranean trains that I’ve taken, they all pale in comparaison to the Barcelona metro system. You know, if wasn’t for the fact that I don’t speak Catalan and have family ties/friends in New York, I’d be tempted to pass it up for heavenly Barcelona. But rest assured, MTA, I’m not going anywhere and will continue to be your “valued” customer…..

The Barca metro had mini-TVs. Grant you, they mostly showed ads and public event fliers, but they were still something to look at besides Spanish-language ads for HIV patients, like the MTA has plastered to it’s walls.

My favorite thing about the Barca Metro: punctuality! I swear, every time we walked in there was a train conveniently arriving. Every time. That’s a track record that the MTA would love but sadly will never get, because their dirty, rambling trains are always breaking down or there’s no signal or otherwise construction is going on. I don’t want to have to wait 20 minutes in the evening because it’s a Sunday and most New Yorkers aren’t going out to club and therefore there are less trains running; I want that train to arrive pronto!

Unlike the MTA, which only has one “central” pole for people to hold onto, Barca metro had 3 poles. This may seem insignificant, but let me explain: when I get on the subway and some overweight, oblivious girl has her body all up against the single pole for me to hold onto, I get a little upset. Where am I supposed to hold onto?

Additionally, the Barca Metro had useful maps that were not graffiti-d all over the place at your convenience. So you don’t have to pray that the line you’re getting on takes you to where you’re going, since there’s no map for you to check, and end up finding out by trial and error that, oops, it doesn’t! Why don’t I ask somebody where the train goes, you ask? C’mon, MTA, you’re New Yorkaise! The only way New Yorkers deal with all the crowds and weirdos is by pretending that they don’t exist!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2012 6:33 AM

    Wow, it’s kind of funny to see Barcelona used as an example of great organization compared to New York 🙂

    I do agree that the metro system works pretty well, but I think that if you did move here you would find so many other things that are not so efficient. Try to take a Renfe train, for instance – or have a local accountant do your tax filing – and let’s review the topic 🙂

    In fact, I find this one of Barcelona’s many contradictions. On one hand it offers some neat services that are hard to find in other cities, on the other it lacks some basic features that would make life easier for all us residents. I guess like any city there are pros and cons… but clearly the balance weighs in favour of the pros for me, otherwise I’d be living somewhere else.


    • February 17, 2012 11:17 AM

      Well, if you ever experience the New York City subway system, I’m confident that you’ll agree with me that Barcelona’s rocks infinitely more! The MTA is seriously so slow and you have to wait forever, unless it’s mega rush hour and like I said, then you won’t be able to get on anyways!

      The Renfe train is the one that goes to, say the airport for instance right? And about accountants–do they not exist in Barcelona ? 😛

      • February 17, 2012 11:48 AM

        Yeah, Renfe is the Spanish railway company. It doesn’t just bring you to the airport, but to any other location by train. The situation in the Barcelona area is crazy, there have been several accidents lately and the system is so badly organized that it’s hard to even find your way to the right train. Believe me, I can tell!

        Regarding accountants, of course there are, but personally I had very bad experiences with both accountants that worked for me during the years. I won’t delve into the details, but they made serious mistakes (which lead to me paying around 3000 euros more taxes than I should have!) and repeatedly lied to me. I’m currently looking for a new one, of course 😉

        So I guess the bottom line is, not all that glitters is gold… There’s good and bad everywhere, and for an impeccable metro system there’s always something else that makes you consider moving somewhere else 😉

  2. February 25, 2012 5:36 PM

    Yes, Renfe are Spanish trains… And Barcelona’s metro are Catalan trains… And I think this make it quite clear about the efficiency of each system… hehehe…

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