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Lance

Not All Heroes Wear Capes...

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...But this one should be wearing a blue vest.

From Dan Rivoli, NY Daily News

Quote

 

When New Yorkers encounter rush hour chaos on the subway, they often desperately tweet at the MTA for help.

Often the first response comes not from the struggling agency but from an unemployed 21-year-old Bronx man obsessed with trains who has appointed himself the subway system’s unofficial patron saint.

Derrick Richard constantly monitors tweets from bewildered and frustrated riders to the MTA’s @NYCTSubway Twitter account — and is quick to insert himself when the agency fails to respond.

“Everybody’s trying to get a response,” Richard told the Daily News. “Everybody’s trying to ask questions.”

In a typical exchange, Christian Luyando‏ tweeted at NYC Transit Tuesday puzzled why the M train was terminating at Essex. St. in Manhattan.

Richard responded before the agency, explaining that because it was Christmas Day, the train was running on a Sunday schedule — which meant service was suspended between Essex St. and 71st Ave. in Queens.

"Interesting detail," a grateful Luyando tweeted back at Richard. "Thanks for the heads up."

“Amazing I get a response from you but not from @NYCTSubway,” commuter Ilyssa Fuchs tweeted at Richard recently when he explained a signal malfunction was behind mysterious delays she was experiencing waiting for rush hour Q train on Second Ave.

“The @MTA should put a check in the mail for you, considering they told us nothing,” rider @JGL598 tweeted last month after Richard told him an NYPD investigation at 42nd St. had forced local trains onto the express track during rush hour, creating packed subway platforms on the C and E lines at Penn Station.

MTA execs are in awe.

“We wonder when he sleeps,” said Sarah Meyer, NYC Transit’s chief customer officer, who oversees the agency’s digital communications team. “His dedication to fellow New Yorkers is beyond admirable.”

Meyer recalled with wonder how Richard recently helped a passenger who was watching work trains roll through the Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Ctr. station and wondering when a Q train would finally stop there. The aggrieved tweet came with a picture that tipped Richard that the rider was on the wrong platform.

”The more help that we can get from people like Derrick, to help people get from A to B, we welcome that,” Meyer said.

Richard cracks open his 8-year-old laptop around 6 a.m. every morning and loads up the MTA and Subway Time websites he uses to help monitor what happens on the rails.

Between transit alerts, helping commuters and posts about his other passion — pro wrestling — Richard’s @Derrick_NYC account has amassed more than 208,000 tweets. That’s almost in the same league as the 338,000 tweets from the official @NYCTSubway account.

To Richard, figuring out how people can get to their destination when their usual route is doomed is an irresistible puzzle to crack.

On weekends, when confusing service changes are rampant, he even visits busy stations like 34th St.-Penn Station with service changes printed out to advise bewildered riders.

“I will lose my voice if I’m yelling,” he said.

Richard, who lives in Longwood, says he still remembers his first subway ride as a baby. It was 1998, when he was just shy of 2, and his family was moving from Brooklyn to the Bronx.

From their former home near the Ralph Ave. station in Bedford-Stuyvesant, they took the C train to Manhattan where they switched to an uptown No. 2 train at Fulton St. for the ride to Intervale Ave. station in Longwood.

By age 12, he was taking the subway on his own. He pored over maps and from the Bronx rode the 2 train to Manhattan’s West Side and the 5 train to the East Side, satisfying his curiosity about where trains go and what stations they serve.

He still likes watching train videos, riding the subways to far-flung neighborhoods, and walking through stations.

Richard left the Bronx to study mechanical engineering for two years at SUNY Canton upstate.

Now, he’s back in the Bronx in his family house with his mother, aunt and grandmother. He began tweeting to commuters in earnest in 2014.

He is studying for the MTA conductor test next year — a job he’s wanted since he was 4.

“I wanted to be a conductor when I started studying the subway lines,” he said. “Basically from the beginning.”

 

 

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I wonder if they can give this guy a contract position doing that - bypassing civil service exams and keeping him narrow in scope occupation-wise, until he passes his conductor exam.

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20 hours ago, Deucey said:

I wonder if they can give this guy a contract position doing that - bypassing civil service exams and keeping him narrow in scope occupation-wise, until he passes his conductor exam.

He's gotta bribe some high-up before he can get a special contract ;)

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16 hours ago, QM1to6Ave said:

He's gotta bribe some high-up before he can get a special contract ;)

Someone call Albany, anything that comes out of there MTA follows loyally

  • Upvote 1

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If it were up to certain train operators who have a beef with rail fans to remark on this hero: “who does this guy think he is? He’s just a passenger. He should just shut up and let the professionals provide help!” I kid you not, those kind of employees are all over the system. Give them the first opportunity to help by getting out of the way and they give wrong information to the tourists you just tried to help.

  • Upvote 2

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2 hours ago, CenSin said:

If it were up to certain train operators who have a beef with rail fans to remark on this hero: “who does this guy think he is? He’s just a passenger. He should just shut up and let the professionals provide help!” I kid you not, those kind of employees are all over the system. Give them the first opportunity to help by getting out of the way and they give wrong information to the tourists you just tried to help.

Yeah. One of the agency's biggest problems is its reverence for itself -- the degree to which it regards it circumstances, practices and mission to be 'exceptional.' That attitude creates a strong reactionary force against any outside intervention, whether that be a civic watchdog telling them to review construction costs, or a railfan telling them to review a timer. Of course, you cannot dismiss expertise, but I think that if NYCT is ever to unf*ck itself, it needs to become irreverent of peoples' titles and practices. Bureaucracy only really works when it mirrors meritocracy, after all. 

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4 hours ago, RR503 said:

Yeah. One of the agency's biggest problems is its reverence for itself -- the degree to which it regards it circumstances, practices and mission to be 'exceptional.' That attitude creates a strong reactionary force against any outside intervention, whether that be a civic watchdog telling them to review construction costs, or a railfan telling them to review a timer. Of course, you cannot dismiss expertise, but I think that if NYCT is ever to unf*ck itself, it needs to become irreverent of peoples' titles and practices. Bureaucracy only really works when it mirrors meritocracy, after all. 

Kinda like I told a boss at a job I hated: "If you think you're the only smart person in the room, you're actually the room's idiot."

  • LMAO! 1

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