New Yorkers cope with transit strike

City's transit workers are striking, leaving millions of New Yorkers literally out in the cold. So now what?

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
3 min read
After New York's transit workers went on strike for the first time in 25 years on Tuesday morning, New Yorkers turned to the Web not only for information about how to get to work, but also to vent their frustrations, share stories and find ways to occupy their time.

The biggest difference between the New York transit strike of 2005 and the one staged 25 years ago in April of 1980 is the Internet. Back in 1980, the Net was just a glimmer in the eye of techies developing the technology. But today, it has served as a powerful tool to disseminate and find information about the transit strike.

In addition, the Internet has helped New Yorkers connect to each other in a variety of ways, from finding rides to work to just sharing complaints with the rest of the world.

Official sites run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the city provide maps and detailed information about bridge and tunnel crossings into Manhattan, as well as prices and maps for the different zones taxis will use during certain hours while the strike is still on.

News agencies are also doing their part to provide New Yorkers with up-to-date information. The New York Times is using Google's map technology to create an interactive map that shows carpooling stations with exact addresses that pop up in a bubble when a mouse moves over the icon.

Bloggers are contributing links and information on the strike. Google Maps Mania, an unofficial blog tracking the use of Google maps, has posted links to maps and Webcams that commuters can use to track traffic conditions. Wikipedia, the free, open-access, online encyclopedia, already has an entry on the 2005 New York City Transit strike.

But the Web isn't just about getting information; it's also about sharing it. And in a city notorious for its complainers, it is little surprise that Web pages are filling up with angry posts about how greedy the Transport Workers Union is and accounts of hellish commutes. Sites like Gothamist and the New York Times have asked New Yorkers to share their experiences getting to work Tuesday morning. Gothamist is even running a most-inconvenient commute contest. The prize? A $76 monthly metro card to be used once the strike ends.

Not all New Yorkers are mad about being stranded at home, however. Instead of posting angry rants or looking for rides to work on Craigslist, some people are spending the day at home searching for "strike sex."

"Can host stranded strike buddy--need a place to crash tonight? Late 30s, stocky average joe here seeking to help out a stranded bud or two due to the strike. Be 21-40, decent looking and decent body--not necessarily looking to hook up but could be fun if we connect."

Some sites are encouraging people to have a more Zen-like approach to the whole situation. Gawker is linking readers to a tour of the best food on the Lower East Side. "You're going to be walking today, anyway. So it's the perfect time for a food tour of the Lower East Side."

Gothamist has suggested using time stuck at home to make some last-minute Christmas gifts. "Through the magic of Fresh Direct and/or a short walk to your local market/bodega/grocery/gourmet food shop, (and hopefully with the luxury of telecommuting) you can make last-minute gifts for those pesky folks still left on the list."