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Via Garibaldi 8

MTA Conductors Spill 10 Secrets of the NYC Subway System

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MTA Conductors Spill 10 Secrets of the NYC Subway System

By Pei-Sze Cheng, Kristina Pavlovic and Jessy Edwards

10 PHOTOS

4 hours ago

Some 5.6 million people rely on the subway each day to get around New York City. But what do you really know about something you spend so much time riding? We sat down with a group of MTA workers to ask them about the MTA's dirtiest secrets.

As we sit on the train every day -- sometimes delayed by train traffic ahead, sometimes by signal problems -- one gets to thinking. Are we really delayed by train traffic or are the conductors protecting our sensitivities? Is 'sick customer' a euphemism for 'dead customer'? Am I safer if I sit in the middle of the train, or near the doors where I can make a quick escape? If I touch this pole, what are the chances I'm going to get a nasty rash? Did I just see someone living in the subway tunnel? And what exactly is that couple doing over there?

We asked all the hard questions. Read below for more.

1 of 10

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Richard Richards, operator: Honestly, as an operator, I have to tell them something. In an attempt to keep the customers calm you tell them we have traffic ahead, we have delays ahead, but in honesty we don't always know 'cause they are not telling us and radio communications can be choppy.

Joe Costales, conductor: The system is antiquated, the relay for the radio systems are not kept up, they are not repaired, they are not constantly checked so there are black-out areas.

Crystal Young, conductor: We may talk to them over the radio and they can hear us but we can't hear what they are saying. Sometimes when we are on a train it's not that we don't want to let the customers know what's going on, we don't have the communications to let them know what's going on.

2 of 10

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Costales: All the time.

Richards: They had hot-plates they had TVs, they literally lived back there.

Costales: You see them coming out. A lot of times people who get hit by trains, are the ones living in the subway.

Brandon Patterson, conductor: Sometimes when we go to set up tracks we go down there and they get mad because they think we are invading their home space.

3 of 10

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Richards: We're not doctors so sometimes it can be. They could be unresponsive, we have to call for medical assistance to check them out.

4 of 10

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Richards: I've seen people actually having sex on the train.

Costales: Masturbating, having sex.

Richards: And they've got a bed set up, they tap into the third rail and they are watching TV.

Young: One time someone brought a goat on the train. They bought it at a live mart.

5 of 10

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Tramell Thompson, conductor: The E train has been dubbed 'The Homeless Express', it's one of those lines that doesn't go outside. So from terminal to terminal it's underground. It's pretty warm. You have new, nicer trains over there, it's clean over there. And you know the homeless, you go on there at midnight, you'll see five or six homeless people in each car. But the homeless isn't really the issue with us, it's mainly the drunks.

6 of 10

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Richards: In the middle of the car. You don't want to sit in the corners [because that's where people throw up and urinate]. Also by the doors, you'll be on your phone and as soon as the doors get ready to close, they snatch it and they're off.

Conductors: A safe place to ride on a subway train would be in the middle of the train in the conductor's car or in the very first car where the train operator's going to be. That way at least you're closest to a crew member to help if they have to.

7 of 10

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Conductors: Absolutely.

Young: At the end of the line they have a sign that shows on-time job performance, where they literally track to see how many people were injured while in performance of their duty so that's what they are concerned about. It's easier for a passenger to make a complaint versus us making a complaint because they just want to keep that train moving.

Patterson: The MTA's logo is 'Every second counts,' so every second counts to them.

Young: Some superintendents, if someone has to take a comfort they want you to write a [note]. So you have to, as an adult, write down on a piece of paper that you had to use the bathroom. God forbid if you use the bathroom too often, then they will try to write you up.

8 of 10

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Tramell Thompson, train conductor: Anything, EDPs (emotionally disturbed person), anything. Could be a disturbance on the train, fights.

Eric Loegel, train operator: Unattended package, suspicious package..."customer injury" as they say. A customer injury is generally someone who has been struck by a train. And we internally refer to that as a 12-9.

9 of 10

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Patterson: No, I try not to. I tell [my kids] not to touch anything, I carry hand sanitizer.

Richards: I don't touch the poles or I sit in the middle...I'm a big guy, I brace myself.

Costales: We transport millions of people, it's hard to keep it that clean.

10 of 10

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Patterson: Standing behind the yellow line, the [public] leans over looking for the train, they could slip, and that's what causes 12-9s and delays

Richards: I've seen people fall on the tracks 'cause they hear the announcement and they think the train is on their track and they start straight walking because they are online...we get conditioned, oh the train is here, they start walking and they fall.

Source: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/-MTA-Conductors-Spill-10-Secrets-of-the-NYC-Subway-System-473969083.html

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1 hour ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

Richards: And they've got a bed set up, they tap into the third rail and they are watching TV.

No way, how would they be able to to run a 120v appliance off of a 660v third rail? Also IIRC household uses AC power, and the third rail is DC power. ALSO from what I've noticed, the third rail is almost always placed on the inside of the tracks.

Not to mention he would have had to figure out a way to draw the power while allowing the contact shoe to pass over normally.

If this is true this guy must have been some serious electrical genius. 

 

Edited by kosciusko
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2 minutes ago, kosciusko said:

No way, how would they be able to to run a 120v appliance off of a 660v third rail? Also IIRC household uses AC power, and the third rail is DC power. ALSO from what I've noticed, the third rail is almost always placed on the inside of the tracks.

Not to mention he would have had to figure out a way to draw the power while allowing the contact shoe to pass over normally.

If this is true this guy must have been some serious electrical genius. 

 

I've seen it myself.  A homeless guy will set up right on the platform, find an electrical outlet and sit right there with his things plugged into the outlet.  Really crazy.

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2 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I've seen it myself.  A homeless guy will set up right on the platform, find an electrical outlet and sit right there with his things plugged into the outlet.  Really crazy.

yeah but an electrical outlet is not the same as tapping into the third rail.

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Just now, kosciusko said:

yeah but an electrical outlet is not the same as tapping into the third rail.

Well who knows if he meant that word for word.  Ultimately, they must tap into an electrical source.  You also have to realize that some of these people LIVE in the subway and it becomes their everyday home, so nothing would surprise me.

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5 hours ago, kosciusko said:

No way, how would they be able to to run a 120v appliance off of a 660v third rail? Also IIRC household uses AC power, and the third rail is DC power. ALSO from what I've noticed, the third rail is almost always placed on the inside of the tracks.

Not to mention he would have had to figure out a way to draw the power while allowing the contact shoe to pass over normally.

If this is true this guy must have been some serious electrical genius. 

 

Aren’t there electric outlets (for some power tools) in the service entrances and emergency exits in the tunnels?

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6 minutes ago, Deucey said:

Aren’t there electric outlets (for some power tools) in the service entrances and emergency exits in the tunnels?

That's actually an interesting question. I don't know if all Track Workers on duty using electrically-powered tools can do so because of access to portable generators. Also, I wonder if there are electrical outlets at those blue lamps every 600 FT or so in subways tunnels. There should be an emergency intercom and third rail cutoff breaker at those blue lamps I believe.

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8 hours ago, kosciusko said:

No way, how would they be able to to run a 120v appliance off of a 660v third rail? Also IIRC household uses AC power, and the third rail is DC power. ALSO from what I've noticed, the third rail is almost always placed on the inside of the tracks.

Not to mention he would have had to figure out a way to draw the power while allowing the contact shoe to pass over normally.

If this is true this guy must have been some serious electrical genius. 

 

 

8 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I've seen it myself.  A homeless guy will set up right on the platform, find an electrical outlet and sit right there with his things plugged into the outlet.  Really crazy.

What an absolute mentalist :D:D:lol::lol:

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I am, by no means, an MTA conductor.... but these are my comments....

**cue Law & Order sound effect here **

 

1] Any sane, rational, free-thinking person knows that announcement is, at best, a half-truth...

2] I will never forget the one ride on the (2) coming home from Albee Sq. mall as a kid.... I was looking out the windows at the adjacent (4) train whilst in-between stations (Franklin & President).... Both trains eventually diverted from each other - and a couple seconds or so afterwards, I saw a bright blue light source with letters on it....

...a split second later, I also saw ALEX TREBEK & 3 contestants :blink:

That.... was.... Jeopardy!

3] Never actually thought about that (referring to the question)....

4] I've also seen people doing the do on much more than one occasion... Yes, one of those times, I've even saw a live...stream.

Just don't assume that wet spot on the seat you want to sit down on when some water seeps inside the subway car, is rain....

5] I personally laugh at the irony whenever I see the (E) at WTC myself..... Nice new subway cars, same old homeless folks.... What a contrast.

6] Not that any of the c/r's aren't, but Richards' answer is especially on point.... Seen each of those situations play out too many times (as I'm someone that guns for the corner seats.... it may not be the safest area in the train, but it's the part of the train where there's the least amount of people around you (on a crowded train))....

7] Sorry, I don't buy it... Not one bit.... The c/r's are answering as if they're talking about employee performance/complacency....

8] What kind of question is this? I mean seriously, if the MTA has its employees having to stretch the truth about police investigations (like they have its c/r's do when trains are delayed, see question 1), I would want no part of ever utilizing any of its buses or trains.... I'd go as far as to say that would be a disgusting practice....

9] * insert Scooby-doo, rye-roant-rett-it ((I don't get it)) gif here *

What is this question trying to imply exactly? That the trains are filthy..., that the trains are overcrowded..... that people stink.... that people are that untrustworthy.... that, just because they work for the agency, doesn't mean they necessarily actually USE the trains :lol:

10] Basically, passenger awareness (or lack thereof).... I would have to agree.

----------------------------------------------

 

The first & the last questions to me, were the best ones.

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2 things i find interesting...1.The Homeless with the hot plates and tv's :blink:...And the (E) being labled as the Homeless Express....Me personally ill remove most of those 160s off the (E) overnight and let those 40 year old 46s handle the overnight hotel...:D

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Let Me answer This from my experiences!

1. When they say its train traffic, 9/10 it is train traffic. Me being the train operator, a lot of times in there is a train passing in front or i have a red light in front of me and i know I'm trailing another train, i will trigger the Train traffic announcement!

 

2. I personally haven't seen people living underground

 

3. When they say its a sick passenger, it normally is, but anything can be a sick passenger.. overall if they are unresponsive, we have to call it in and wait until help comes. so either we will sit there and wait, or the train will get discharged and the conductor will stay with the passenger until help come while i take the train light to the terminal.

 

4. The Craziest shit that happened to me was a man smoking crack in my car. it was the middle of the winter. cold as shit! and this dude had on shorts, no shirt, sneakers with no socks and sweating like crazy. i just told him to either put it out, get off the train or i have to call the police. this dude takes a pull and say Ok and gets off the train LoL

5. Im in the A Division... Never Done the E Train but I've her stories about it! LoL

 

6. I always say the safest place is in the 1st or 6th Car!

 

7. MTA is always concerned about getting the train out of the terminal on time. once its out, its whatever... If the Train don't get out the terminal, Its a ABD and that department will get charged for that.

 

8.Police investigation Can be a number of things. a 12-9 happened, they are looking for somebody, Suspicious package, It varies!

9. When I ride the subway I'm normally on duty. They really don't want employees to sit. they want us to stand because they feel the paying passengers should sit because they paid... if the train is empty i'll sit. when it gets full i get up! also, If I'm in the last car, ill ride in the cab!

 

10. My biggest concern is having another 12-9. these people don't have any respect for the train tracks especially kids. thy don't understand that we can't stop that train on the dime! we need time and space!

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15 hours ago, kosciusko said:

how would they be able to to run a 120v appliance off of a 660v third rail? Also IIRC household uses AC power, and the third rail is DC power.

Bingo, That's correct why all electronic DC-based devices have converters inside power adpters. My wife was asking just a few nights ago why her Macbook adapter was so hot? I told  AC to DC conversion, course she called me a dork after explaining that! :lol:  So it'd have to come in AC 60hz /Single phase for the conversion. Funny Trains work the other way with inversion. 

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1 hour ago, I Run Trains said:

The Craziest shit that happened to me was a man smoking crack in my car. it was the middle of the winter. cold as shit! and this dude had on shorts, no shirt, sneakers with no socks and sweating like crazy. i just told him to either put it out, get off the train or i have to call the police. this dude takes a pull and say Ok and gets off the train LoL

😂🤣:lol:

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2 hours ago, B35 via Church said:

I am, by no means, an MTA conductor.... but these are my comments....

**cue Law & Order sound effect here **

 

1] Any sane, rational, free-thinking person knows that announcement is, at best, a half-truth...

2] I will never forget the one ride on the (2) coming home from Albee Sq. mall as a kid.... I was looking out the windows at the adjacent (4) train whilst in-between stations (Franklin & President).... Both trains eventually diverted from each other - and a couple seconds or so afterwards, I saw a bright blue light source with letters on it....

...a split second later, I also saw ALEX TREBEK & 3 contestants :blink:

That.... was.... Jeopardy!

3] Never actually thought about that (referring to the question)....

4] I've also seen people doing the do on much more than one occasion... Yes, one of those times, I've even saw a live...stream.

Just don't assume that wet spot on the seat you want to sit down on when some water seeps inside the subway car, is rain....

5] I personally laugh at the irony whenever I see the (E) at WTC myself..... Nice new subway cars, same old homeless folks.... What a contrast.

6] Not that any of the c/r's aren't, but Richards' answer is especially on point.... Seen each of those situations play out too many times (as I'm someone that guns for the corner seats.... it may not be the safest area in the train, but it's the part of the train where there's the least amount of people around you (on a crowded train))....

7] Sorry, I don't buy it... Not one bit.... The c/r's are answering as if they're talking about employee performance/complacency....

8] What kind of question is this? I mean seriously, if the MTA has its employees having to stretch the truth about police investigations (like they have its c/r's do when trains are delayed, see question 1), I would want no part of ever utilizing any of its buses or trains.... I'd go as far as to say that would be a disgusting practice....

9] * insert Scooby-doo, rye-roant-rett-it ((I don't get it)) gif here *

What is this question trying to imply exactly? That the trains are filthy..., that the trains are overcrowded..... that people stink.... that people are that untrustworthy.... that, just because they work for the agency, doesn't mean they necessarily actually USE the trains :lol:

10] Basically, passenger awareness (or lack thereof).... I would have to agree.

----------------------------------------------

 

The first & the last questions to me, were the best ones.

I don't buy most of the excuses these days.  To me they're all just more excuses as to why I can't get to my destination promptly.    I also said the same thing about #9... My uncle told me once when I went with him that they NEVER clean the insides of the buses. I guess they sweep, but actual cleaning the insides... Likely happens rarely.  I always remember that and for that reason I'm very hesitant to sit.  The guy interviewed said it's hard to keep the trains clean. Man please... It's hard because they rarely clean them!  I mean I think the only time these trains see any cleaning is when they are overhauled. That's disgusting. For whatever reason, people seem to feel comfortable doing everything and anything on the train too... Bringing their dogs and having them sit everywhere, putting their feet all over the seats, and then there are the homeless people all over the place.  The last few days I've actually had to sit on the local bus because of my leg, but even with the pain I was in, I refused to sit on the subway. The hell with that.

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Well there was a new bulletin posted a few weeks ago that makes the T/O program the train and play announcements as need be, not the conductor anymore.

But in regards to a sick passenger, I was once trapped on a (4) train at 103rd St for half an hour and the conductor made no announcements as to what was going on. After the 15th minute I got fed up and used the emegency intercom to know why the hell we were trapped here for nearly 15 minutes, and she said it was because of a sick passenger. I looked outside on the platform and there was NO sick passenger in sight, nor in the train itself. 

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34 minutes ago, Lawrence St said:

Well there was a new bulletin posted a few weeks ago that makes the T/O program the train and play announcements as need be, not the conductor anymore.

But in regards to a sick passenger, I was once trapped on a (4) train at 103rd St for half an hour and the conductor made no announcements as to what was going on. After the 15th minute I got fed up and used the emegency intercom to know why the hell we were trapped here for nearly 15 minutes, and she said it was because of a sick passenger. I looked outside on the platform and there was NO sick passenger in sight, nor in the train itself. 

The sick passenger could have been at the next station.

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When a sick passenger is on the train, the first priority is can the passenger be moved off the train (they must be conscious and willing to move their own body).

If not, then every train behind must stop and stay until the passenger is detrained.  The train crew wants to move the train as much as control and everyone else on board.

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5 hours ago, RailRunRob said:

Bingo, That's correct why all electronic DC-based devices have converters inside power adpters. My wife was asking just a few nights ago why her Macbook adapter was so hot? I told  AC to DC conversion, course she called me a dork after explaining that! :lol:  So it'd have to come in AC 60hz /Single phase for the conversion. Funny Trains work the other way with inversion. 

Assuming the TV is converting the mains voltage to LVDC and we're either talking a linear power supply or a swtiching power supply with a bridge rectifier before the mosfets - I don't see why running 5 tv's in series wouldn't work. :D

(please don't try this. but it would probably work. but please don't try this. )

 

Also I believe the heat generated by a modern SMPS like the macbook power supply is because they run at fairly high frequencies, which results in a smoother output voltage but has two drawbacks: At higher frequencies, the effective resistance of a conductor gets higher because of the skin effect, and also, it means the MOSFET spends more total time moving between off and on, and during that time, it's dissipating power, as heat. (That's why those things are packed as TO-220 people!)

Wrong nerdery for this messageboard. Aplogies

Edited by itmaybeokay
further nerdery
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Train traffic is one of those things that I believe more often than not, especially at rush hour.  Between 5-7, it's not uncommon for (B) and (C) trains to fly past stationary (A) and (D) trains going south along CPW.  Trains sit in the station way too long at 59 St, and those timers don't help either.  And that's just one example.  There are numerous examples where timers and interlockings can quickly create bottlenecks (not to mention interlocking on the B division is done the same way it was done in the 1930s!).  Are they lying?  Not always, but that doesn't vindicate them.  Any delays related to infrastructure are their responsibility.

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7 hours ago, itmaybeokay said:

Assuming the TV is converting the mains voltage to LVDC and we're either talking a linear power supply or a swtiching power supply with a bridge rectifier before the mosfets - I don't see why running 5 tv's in series wouldn't work. :D

(please don't try this. but it would probably work. but please don't try this. )

 

Also I believe the heat generated by a modern SMPS like the macbook power supply is because they run at fairly high frequencies, which results in a smoother output voltage but has two drawbacks: At higher frequencies, the effective resistance of a conductor gets higher because of the skin effect, and also, it means the MOSFET spends more total time moving between off and on, and during that time, it's dissipating power, as heat. (That's why those things are packed as TO-220 people!)

Wrong nerdery for this messageboard. Aplogies

Yeah. SMPS haha your crossed the nerd line there..  Yeah nonlinear and less energy wasted. Your truly a nerd for this one lol.:D:lol:

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10 hours ago, RailRunRob said:

Yeah. SMPS haha your crossed the nerd line there..  Yeah nonlinear and less energy wasted. Your truly a nerd for this one lol.:D:lol:

Still better than the technobabble trash that most people indulge in on television

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SMP's, MOSFET's/"MISFET's" (we have plenty of these roaming around here in NYC :D), IGBT's, BJT's....

Alright, nobody mentioned those last couple, but man, I haven't heard those terms (well, acronym's) since shop classes in high school.... I'll never forget our final exam in shop class junior year... The test was out of 100 (of course), but the last question was worth 36% (by design... meaning, if you got every other question right, you still failed the final exam if you got that last question wrong)....

That last question was..... What does IC stand for?

Out of about 40 or so of us, our shop teacher announced that only 3 of us passed.... Most people kept putting Integrated CHIPS (I say "kept putting" because, throughout other tests we had during that marking period, that question would always be asked, and most ppl. kept getting it wrong).....

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2 hours ago, B35 via Church said:

SMP's, MOSFET's/"MISFET's" (we have plenty of these roaming around here in NYC :D), IGBT's, BJT's....

Alright, nobody mentioned those last couple, but man, I haven't heard those terms (well, acronym's) since shop classes in high school.... I'll never forget our final exam in shop class junior year... The test was out of 100 (of course), but the last question was worth 36% (by design... meaning, if you got every other question right, you still failed the final exam if you got that last question wrong)....

That last question was..... What does IC stand for?

Out of about 40 or so of us, our shop teacher announced that only 3 of us passed.... Most people kept putting Integrated CHIPS (I say "kept putting" because, throughout other tests we had during that marking period, that question would always be asked, and most ppl. kept getting it wrong).....

Speaking of shop classes, what school did you attend. Just asking?

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On 2/15/2018 at 10:33 AM, P3F said:

The sick passenger could have been at the next station.

If that was the case, then the conductor wouldn't have waited half an hour at 103rd St and not open the doors to the platform.

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3 hours ago, LGA Link N train said:

Speaking of shop classes, what school did you attend. Just asking?

You didn't have shop class?

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