The Commute

That’s the insider tip from Bloomberg today, which is ramping up its scat coverage by the minute (I’m guessing they polled their readers and found that fecal matter is all the rage on Wall Street. Tomorrow’s story: How Does CNBC’s Charlie Gasparino Stay Regular? Hint: Metamucil omelettes). Very important investigative journalism has revealed that a man or woman’s commute will be less pleasant in a seat bathroom-adjacent than in one less proximate to the commode. And here’s the craziest part–this matter of smells doesn’t just affect commuters going in and out of New Jersey but those living or working in the more prestigious zip codes located on the North side of the Long Island Sound.
“You never want to sit anywhere near the bathroom, which has constant odor issues,” said Andrew DeVries of Stamford, Connecticut, an analyst with CreditSights in New York and Nobel Prize hopeful. Apparently new cars being rolled out late next year will sport lavatories with waste storage tanks located farther from passengers. Until then let’s all do our part to make the commute a little fresher, by making a stop at Steve Cohen’s house before boarding the train.
Traders Get Better Whiff Riding 5:09 to Greenwich [Bloomberg]

Protestors Foul Up Evening Commute

We hope you’re not planning on taking a car out of Manhattan tonight. Hundreds protestors objecting to the acquittal of police officers who shot and killed Sean Bell have launched their attempt to traffic mayhem today by blocking key commuting intersection, including entrances to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Holland Tunnel, the Queensborough Bridge and the Midtown Tunnel.
Cops have been arresting dozens of demonstrators in an effort to prevent the evening commute being disrupted but NY1’s coverage indicates that at there are far more protestors than the police can handle quickly.
Manhattanites shouldn’t get too smug. Traffic throughout Manhattan will quickly become snarled if the exits off the island are blocked for very long. Your safest bet is subways and trains. Or, better yet, get yourself into the local watering-hole and drink the commuting problems away.

The Human Toll Of Bear Stearns: Dread On The Commute

We’re a hardened lot here at DealBreaker. We laugh in the face of our failures. As regular readers know well, we try to provoke laughter at the failures of others. So it was surprising when we found ourselves getting a bit choked up this morning as we read the Metro section of the New York Times. Peter Applebome rides with the commuters from Chappaqua to discover fear and self-loathing aboard the 6:13.

The pilgrims from Chappaqua trudged in from the cold drizzle Wednesday morning and gathered in drowsy silence like crows on the covered overpass above the tracks until 6:11, when someone said, “It’s time to get our heads bashed in.” Thus inspired, they descended to the platform, piled onto the largely empty cars, and then, either asleep, reading a newspaper, or with heads bowed as if in prayer over BlackBerrys, journeyed in silence on the 32.4 miles to Grand Central.

There’s no happy ending to the story, unless you count Applebome’s buddhist-stoicism as a version of happiness. As they say on the internet, read the whole thing.
Bear’s News Is Bad News on the 6:13 [New York Times]

Our National Nightmare, Part 2

imaginethispictureinacirclewithalinethroughit.jpgIt’s not happening ‘til the 22nd, but since it’s going to have a negative impact on all of our lives on par with things like war, famine, standing in front of a microwave, and existing within a 10 foot radius of a television showing “Rock of Love,” the sooner we can brace ourselves for the worst and prepare accordingly, the better. It’s the second act of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance strike, because the first one, which took place was either massively successful enough to warrant a sequel or because it was so ineffectual a do-over was in order (don’t know, never followed up). Bhairavi Desai, the union’s co-founder, said that the protest, over new rules that require cabs to use GPS systems and touch-screen monitors that will let passengers pay by plastic, will begin at 5 a.m. and last 24-hours. She expects an even bigger turn out than last time.
Mayor Bloomberg claims that the city is fully prepared for the strike, with a “contingency plan” in place, though he would not deign to say what it entails. Our guess is something obscene like encouraging people to “take the subway,” which is why you call in sick and get as far from Manhattan as possible. There may not be enough company-sanctioned town cars to go around.
Please remember that while it may seem scary, it’s important not to panic. Let’s not use this space to remember the horror which befell us all on 9/5. Let’s use it as a forum in which we can figure out how we’re going to fight back. We will not let them prey on our fear (or make us take the bus).
Earlier: Cab Strike: Day One of Our National Nightmare

Strike Two: Taxi Union Sets Oct. 22 For Walkout [CBS]

Cab Strike: Day One of Our National Nightmare

imaginethispictureinacirclewithalinethroughit.jpgIf you’re like us, the two-day cab strike that started this morning didn’t throw a wrench in your routine because it either a. didn’t affect you (I take the subway, Keith sleeps at his desk) or b. you didn’t know about it (Carney doesn’t read newspapers and tunes out the comings and goings of the world unrelated to JFCIII 99% of the time). But we get that most of you *aren’t* like us, in more ways than one, the sweeping generalization being that you’re just plain better, so let’s discuss this for a moment.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance began its much-fêted (or not-at-all-fêted) 48-hour strike to protest new rules that require cabs to use GPS systems and touch-screen monitors that will let passengers pay by plastic. Cabbies are ticked about these measures because they fear the nav devices could be used to track their whereabouts and the deal with the cards could mean heavy fees for processing. So, in the interest of paranoia and cheapness, they’ve taken to the streets by NOT taking to the streets, and are striking for 2 days. Or at least some are. Nobody actually really knows how many drivers are participating in the demonstration, but at least enough to tick off cab-enthusiasts. Like financial analyst Matt Achilarre, who had to wait almost 20 minutes for a cab and has zero sympathy for the strikers. “It’s pointless, they’re not making any statements,” he told the AP. “I applaud the cabbies that are working. They’ll get a windfall.” (NB: Achilarre commutes via train from New Jersey, then by cab. No word on where he works, but that’s definitely the sort of thing you guys can easily dig up and deride accordingly.)
And Gawker notes that “people have been sharing cabs — two and three passengers at a time.” Obviously, this is sickening. Were you forced to sit in awkward silence with a stranger this morning on your way to work? To—and this is really disgusting but we’re doing it for you—actually make small-talk with one (or two)? Did you have two seconds (but hideous regardless) of bodily contact with someone you didn’t know, as you slid into the back seat? Or did you rise above it all—and get car service? Let it out. We’re listening.
Two-Day Taxi Strike Brings Woes to Commuters [AP]
Sorta Taxi Strike Sorta Inconvenient [Gawker]

If You Don’t Get To Work Today, The Terrorists Rain Wins

rainstormnyc.jpgIf you are reading this from anywhere around NYC, you probably managed to get to work somehow. Which very likely means you are really dedicated to your job and unwilling to use the third-worldization of New York City’s transit system to scam a free morning off from work or even claim a “work from home” day. Either that or you hate your home life so much even the deluge couldn’t keep you there. Reports from our sources on the trading floors indicate that there’s a lot of absentee traders today. Lazy employees or happy with their home life? We report. You deride.
Team DealBreaker is scattered all over the city, trying to figure out how to make our way to the DealBreaker Global HQ. The 4/5/6, 2/3 and N/R are all in various states of fustercluck. (Some of our correspondents report that they were forced to leave their beloved subways lines to take busses! The horror!) Cabs are pretty much unavailable, and traffic is snarled all over the city anyway.
Right now the Dow is up nearly 100 points, barely an hour into the trading day. Rain is volatility’s friend.

Update:
The New York Times City Room blog is reporting that the subways are going to be like Heelys stock options (underwater) for a least a few more hours.

At 9:55 a.m., transit officials warned that the subway system would not be back until noon at the earliest — and possibly not until the evening rush. “We can pump a lot of water out of the system — we do, on a daily basis — but when we have this much rain in the system at one time, our ability to pump the water out into the sewer system is hampered because that system is overwhelmed,” Paul J. Fleuranges, a New York City Transit spokesman, told NY1 News.

Meanwhile, we’ve just heard that a senior manager at one Wall Street firm noted for its efforts to be a “good citizen” of New York City is telling employees to stay home until the transit mess clears up.

The Last of the Bar Cars?

barcar.jpgThis week’s “Talk of the Town” section of the New Yorker takes on a major issue that threatens nothing short of the way of life of many Westchester residents. We’re talking, of course, about the fate of the commuter bar car. It’s almost amazing that in this age of smoking bans and cocktail free lunches that the bar car still exists. And so it’s no surprise that it’s endangered. But not everyone is willing to let their right to the afternoon beer slip quietly into the history books. One group of commuters led by Robert Shea has formed Commuters Allied for Responsible Enjoyment (CARE) to stand athwart history yelling “Bud.”

The New Yorker
interviews a couple of typical bar car enthusiasts:

John Lictro, investment banker, 4:10 to Poughkeepsie, Corona: “I basically kick back and unwind.”
Michael Rowe, bond trader, 5:46 to South Norwalk, Bud (though “with the New Year’s resolution, I’m going to be hitting the Bud Light a little harder this year”): “It’s a good excuse to blow off a little steam.”
Michael Susi, online media executive, 6:14 to Scarsdale, Sam Adams: “Living in Westchester, there’s an air about it. You’re not lumped in with everyone who’s immature and can’t control themselves.”
Some echoed, with a surprising poignance, Shea’s contention that a homebound nip was, almost in the way of good schools and green lawns, an inalienable part of the suburban ideal, and that its abolition would somehow spoil the sort of manhood to which they had long aspired. Bill Murphy, a bond trader who customarily enlivens the 6:08 to New Canaan with a Coors Light or “light whatever,” said, “I grew up in Long Island, where they don’t have bar cars. To me, it’s one of the best advantages.”

The Chappaqua Three [The New Yorker]