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Deucey

MTA on 90 train delays: “Quote Silkk the Shocker, It ain’t my fault”

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http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/mta-faults-riders-90-train-backup-workers-blame-agency-article-1.3903798

A two-minute delay along a single subway line earlier this month rippled into a 90-train backup across the system, the Daily News has learned — but the cause of the clog is up for debate.

The MTA pins the blame on sympathetic straphangers who they say held a No. 2 train’s doors for too long on a recent sleety Tuesday morning — giving stragglers more time to pick their way across the slippery platform.

But agency supervisors who spoke to The News said the MTA is looking to avoid responsibility for subway slowdowns by ignoring the real reason things fell behind: tentative train operators who throttled down in reaction to the cruddy weather.

What isn’t disputed is the abominable butterfly effect — 90 delayed trains on the No. 2, 3, 5 and 6 lines, all thanks to the two-minute door delay that began in the Bronx.

The MTA in internal records listed the causes as inclement weather, excess time waiting in the station and overcrowding, all stemming from the door-holding incident.

But MTA sources said that the root reason for the massive delays was something else — and that this incident was indicative of how the agency misattributes the cause of late trains.

An MTA supervisor told The News that the two-minute lag on the No. 2 train could not possibly have caused the 90 delays — especially when the incident occurred at 5:31 a.m., a time when that terminal is not very crowded.

The true cause, the supervisor said, was that some subway operators slowed their trains during the bad weather out of an abundance of caution and fear that they would be disciplined if they overran a station.

Less-experienced operators are wary of new technology on the No. 2 — which prevents wheels from locking in bad weather — leading them to ride more cautiously in the snow. The supervisor said that these operators are poorly trained — an issue that The News wrote about last month — leading them to slow their trains.

“For them to report that it is weather and customers, that is the MTA not taking the blame,” the supervisor said.

Getting to the root cause of subway delays has become a goal of newly hired New York City Transit President Andy Byford. He has criticized the agency’s habit of attributing a large number of delays to overcrowding and has vowed to drill down to find the underlying problem.

The News reported earlier this week that the MTA has had trouble figuring out the reason for a large chunk of its delays.

Transit officials revealed in a closed-door meeting on March 9 that more than 10,000 weekday subway delays in January had no known cause. As a result, they evenly distributed these delays across 14 categories of reasons for tardiness.

But MTA supervisors told The News that the cause for delays is sometimes shifted around because no group involved in the operation of the subway system — from the track workers to the train depots to the police department to the fire department — wants to shoulder the blame.

“Each doesn’t want to be blamed for lateness because it makes them look bad,” a supervisor said.

Dispatchers write up internal reports explaining each subway incident and the number of delays it caused.

Sources said sometimes a delayed train will be attributed to an incident that had nothing to do with it.

On March 13, the No. 2 train was supposed to start its trip from the Wakefield-241st St. station at 5:31 a.m.

But internal reports show that the conductor contacted the MTA’s rail control center at that time to say that riders were holding train doors open for other passengers who were walking cautiously on the outdoor platform because of sleet and snow. Less than an inch of snow fell that morning.

At 5:33 a.m., the conductor radioed the center to say that the doors were able to close and the train was proceeding on the trip. The train eventually arrived at the Flatbush Ave. terminal station more than six minutes late.

The MTA considers a train delayed if it reaches its end stop more than five minutes late. The agency considers 50 or more delayed trains a major incident.

According to internal reports, the No. 2 train created a chain reaction of 90 delays. In total, 32 southbound No.2 trains were late, while 30 southbound No. 5 trains were delayed. There were also delays on the Nos. 3 and 6 trains.

“It's lack of training, lack of experience,” a supervisor said.

Another MTA manager agreed that “lack of training is a big issue.”

The manager said fear of being disciplined plays a factor as well. Operators don’t want to overshoot stations because it will go on their record.

The MTA said its operators are highly trained. It rejected the allegation that operators travel slowly out of fear of being disciplined.

“Safety is our number-one priority and our operators are trained to operate at safe speeds and keep doors open for customers to board safely during inclement weather and slippery conditions like those on March 13,” the agency said. “These delays will be attributed to exactly what caused them — inclement weather and the safe operation of trains during slippery conditions.”

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My question is does the (MTA) focus on safety to the point of obsession? We hear about operating safely now more and more. There has to be a balance between safety and on-time performance. They also keep talking about overcrowding contributing to delays BUT they REFUSE to add more service where they should be. Get more trains rolling and you'll have fewer people holding the doors. Yesterday evening I let two trains go by and after the third one came, I reluctantly piled on to that one. It was packed beyond belief. I got off having to push my way out. Come 2019 though, they'll be trying to justify why we're paying more and can't get more trains.

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2 hours ago, Deucey said:

The MTA said its operators are highly trained. It rejected the allegation that operators travel slowly out of fear of being disciplined.

This line from the article frankly disgusts me. The culture of fear in RTO is the 'root cause' of so much lateness and unreliability in our system. People are afraid to challenge misset timers because of it. People run 10-15mph below posted limits because of it. People slow waaay before entering stations because of it. And people do not report things that actually may pose issues because of it. 

All of that adds up to one steaming pile of delayed trains. 

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14 hours ago, RR503 said:

This line from the article frankly disgusts me. The culture of fear in RTO is the 'root cause' of so much lateness and unreliability in our system. People are afraid to challenge misset timers because of it. People run 10-15mph below posted limits because of it. People slow waaay before entering stations because of it. And people do not report things that actually may pose issues because of it. 

All of that adds up to one steaming pile of delayed trains. 

We Tend to run 10-15mph below posted limits because a sign may say GT 15, but it doesn't clear at 15, but 10 or 5 so to play it safe some operators wait until it turns green.

Signal department always play with the signals and sometimes won't report that its been changed!... But overall. (MTA) Management is the Devil! we are only a Number in they're eyes! We can be replaced easily and they don't give 2 shits about us...  thats why a lot of people more with RESTRICTED SPEED AND EXTREME CAUTION!

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18 minutes ago, I Run Trains said:

We Tend to run 10-15mph below posted limits because a sign may say GT 15, but it doesn't clear at 15, but 10 or 5 so to play it safe some operators wait until it turns green.

Signal department always play with the signals and sometimes won't report that its been changed!... But overall. (MTA) Management is the Devil! we are only a Number in they're eyes! We can be replaced easily and they don't give 2 shits about us...  thats why a lot of people more with RESTRICTED SPEED AND EXTREME CAUTION!

It's stuff like this, having previously worked in a union environment, that tells me a lot of the problems with (MTA) - from late buses to missed runs to trains stuff - isn't solely equipment age, it's largely shitty management ruining morale and pride in the work the frontline employees do.

As mad as I can be with stupidly late S52s, overloaded S44s and being able to walk from. USQ to South Ferry before (R) shows up at USQ, because I was under stupidly shitty management when I was union, even I can grasp doing what's required and necessary to keep management from having to talk to me.

Seems like no matter how much Byford does on infrastructure, until he gets rid of the DMV rejects, we'll have shiny new infrastructure but the same old problem.

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26 minutes ago, I Run Trains said:

We Tend to run 10-15mph below posted limits because a sign may say GT 15, but it doesn't clear at 15, but 10 or 5 so to play it safe some operators wait until it turns green.

That’s what I mean by challenging timers — T/Os should be allowed to run the block at the posted speed, and if they get tripped, have the delay be charged to signals, not them. It’s ridiculous they can’t do that. 

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2 minutes ago, Deucey said:

It's stuff like this, having previously worked in a union environment, that tells me a lot of the problems with (MTA) - from late buses to missed runs to trains stuff - isn't solely equipment age, it's largely shitty management ruining morale and pride in the work the frontline employees do.

As mad as I can be with stupidly late S52s, overloaded S44s and being able to walk from. USQ to South Ferry before (R) shows up at USQ, because I was under stupidly shitty management when I was union, even I can grasp doing what's required and necessary to keep management from having to talk to me.

Seems like no matter how much Byford does on infrastructure, until he gets rid of the DMV rejects, we'll have shiny new infrastructure but the same old problem.

I Love the job from the stand point of living out a childhood dream and controlling my own personal roller coaster, but management are a**holes!!! and the sad part is supervision who was in the same position as us just  year or 2 ago turn into a**holes, like the forgot that they used to be us. the get scared by upper management and they take it out on the front line if we sneeze wrong!

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1 minute ago, RR503 said:

That’s what I mean by challenging timers — T/Os should be allowed to run the block at the posted speed, and if they get tripped, have the delay be charged to signals, not them. It’s ridiculous they can’t do that. 

i feel you, but we are told NOT TO CHALLENGE THEM!.. i personally one challenge one set of timers, and those are the ones in the Jourlemon tube because the way i run those i can see from a distance and they will clear far ahead of me! But back to the topic, we hit a single, the favorite line of management... "YOU DIDNT HAVE YOUR TRAIN UNDER CONTROL"

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1 hour ago, I Run Trains said:

I Love the job from the stand point of living out a childhood dream and controlling my own personal roller coaster, but management are a**holes!!! and the sad part is supervision who was in the same position as us just  year or 2 ago turn into a**holes, like the forgot that they used to be us. the get scared by upper management and they take it out on the front line if we sneeze wrong!

Same thing happened to me - had folks outside on breaks and lunches smoking Blacks and Marlboros with us, but they get that promotion and that management pension and insurance, and then they write us up for everything two weeks earlier they were saying was  Effed up.

And don't you do something wrong in their eyes but make them do it and they can't remember what buttons to push...

That's why my general rule, leaving union for non-union and ending up in leadership is that you don't get to ask or punish any employee to do anything you can't or won't do. Put that rule in place - like how military will make 2LTs and 1LTs that aren't as good as their First Sgts or PFCs/Corporals push papers instead of leading platoons - and I bet every one of these timers and strikes go away.

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On 3/30/2018 at 2:21 PM, I Run Trains said:

I Love the job from the stand point of living out a childhood dream and controlling my own personal roller coaster, but management are a**holes!!! and the sad part is supervision who was in the same position as us just  year or 2 ago turn into a**holes, like the forgot that they used to be us. the get scared by upper management and they take it out on the front line if we sneeze wrong!

 

On 3/30/2018 at 1:52 PM, I Run Trains said:

We Tend to run 10-15mph below posted limits because a sign may say GT 15, but it doesn't clear at 15, but 10 or 5 so to play it safe some operators wait until it turns green.

Signal department always play with the signals and sometimes won't report that its been changed!... But overall. (MTA) Management is the Devil! we are only a Number in they're eyes! We can be replaced easily and they don't give 2 shits about us...  thats why a lot of people more with RESTRICTED SPEED AND EXTREME CAUTION!

You and I know how things work down here but judging from some of the responses I’m reading many posters don’t know how this works. People advocating challenging timers are totally clueless, IMO. If the posted speed is 15 and I go BIE doing 12 who’s really losing the battle ? Train goes BIE, I call the RCC, I get off the train and investigate, I climb back up, I call RCC again, recharge and proceed on. After an investigation it’s determined that the signal, not I, was at fault. Meanwhile it was I who did all the legwork in the incident. It was I who climbed down to the roadbed, underground, embankment, or structure, risking life and limb, for something that was not my fault. The riders lost their time and hopefully weren’t injured while the riders on the following train(s) were delayed as well. Suppose the T/O gets taken out of service until the results come back and s/he is cleared ? Meanwhile theT/O who never or rarely challenges timers doesn’t risk his life and doesn’t get dirty climbing up and down comes out smelling like a rose to management. Wanna guess who has the bullseye painted on their back by RTO, Signals, and CED ? I’m not advocating creeping along the route delaying everything behind me but in the “ guilty until proven innocent “ atmosphere that seems to be the norm these days it’s good to remember rule #1 on any job , CYA. Just my opinion. Carry on.

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23 minutes ago, Trainmaster5 said:

You and I know how things work down here but judging from some of the responses I’m reading many posters don’t know how this works. People advocating challenging timers are totally clueless, IMO. If the posted speed is 15 and I go BIE doing 12 who’s really losing the battle ? Train goes BIE, I call the RCC, I get off the train and investigate, I climb back up, I call RCC again, recharge and proceed on. After an investigation it’s determined that the signal, not I, was at fault. Meanwhile it was I who did all the legwork in the incident. It was I who climbed down to the roadbed, underground, embankment, or structure, risking life and limb, for something that was not my fault. The riders lost their time and hopefully weren’t injured while the riders on the following train(s) were delayed as well. Suppose the T/O gets taken out of service until the results come back and s/he is cleared ? Meanwhile theT/O who never or rarely challenges timers doesn’t risk his life and doesn’t get dirty climbing up and down comes out smelling like a rose to management. Wanna guess who has the bullseye painted on their back by RTO, Signals, and CED ? I’m not advocating creeping along the route delaying everything behind me but in the “ guilty until proven innocent “ atmosphere that seems to be the norm these days it’s good to remember rule #1 on any job , CYA. Just my opinion. Carry on.

To be abundantly clear, I was not advocating for people to run up to a slow timer at posted speed as some sort of sport. I'm saying that if someone happens to do so, the delay should be charged to signals for miscalibrating/missigning the timer rather than the T/O for not having their train under control. You say it yourself, actually, the incident is not their fault. I also think that, yes, CYA is important in any job, but given that the article and discussion here is regarding that exact culture of fear and how one could change it, giving examples of ways in which T/Os are penalized just serves to further the argument of those wanting to change it. 

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On 3/29/2018 at 11:14 PM, RR503 said:

This line from the article frankly disgusts me. The culture of fear in RTO is the 'root cause' of so much lateness and unreliability in our system. People are afraid to challenge misset timers because of it. People run 10-15mph below posted limits because of it. People slow waaay before entering stations because of it. And people do not report things that actually may pose issues because of it. 

All of that adds up to one steaming pile of delayed trains. 

When the article states that the “MTA says,” who are the words coming from really? It does not sound like Andy Byford, who probably want to find out what is really going on and suspect that this is another thing that isn’t what the MTA claims it to be.

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