|Back in the old days, I arranged a spurious trip to New York from Philidelphia. But rather than take the hum-drum Penn Central (now Amtrak) I devised an alternate route over the Reading and New Jersey Central, which operated two commute trains called the Wallstreeter and the Crusader.
These used self propelled rail diesel cars (yes, RDC's) but each train of two or three cars had a cafe section. Going north, enjoying my coffee and paper, sitting at the bar, I noticed reserved signs on the tables, but no occupants leaving Philly. As we moved north, people began to arrive and sit at their reserved tables. Obviously old friends of this commute. I remember one conversation I overheard.
"Don, did you just make commander?" asked one tablemate, referring to Don's gleaming gold collar insignia which were actually his initials. Don replied, "Hey this is just the new New York style and I wanted to fit in..." I almost spewed my swallow of coffee onto the counter.
The return trip on the Crusader was even better. As a newbie, I was welcomed into the fold, had a few beers and made new friends. This is the best of a commute. People thrown together, locked into a place with no escape and then making the best of it.
To take away this icebreaker is a crime. For the last 16 years of my commute, I have had access to a full-service bar on the ferry from San Francisco. I have made innumerable friends and we even went so far as to put together a band and serve snacks on the last Friday of the month. It was written up in USA Today as "People who love their commute."
But now the tide is turning. Our local rail transit (BART) has decided to ban alcohol advertising! This will cost them about $250,000 a year.
I salute what you guys are doing and I will remain vigilant here on the west coast to perserve our right to have a decent commute.
My sainted father visited me one time and rode home with me on the ferry. Cocktail in hand, enjoying the sunset and being welcomed by the regulars. He turned to me and said, "You really have the best commute I have ever seen."
To have your beer and chat with regular faces should be an inalienable right and no-alcohol Nazis should be fought tooth and nail. These are people who have no fun whatsoever in life and want to make sure that we share their misery.
If my ferry bar were under the knife, I would consider seeking the help of the brewing industry association (there must be one) to finance a lawsuit against the transit agency. The transit agency then can balance the thought of placating the misery folks against the cost of defending themselves from irate commuters. It's worked for us in the past, so you might consider it. Good luck with your project.