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Automated L train rolls out


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The first New York City train run entirely by computer hit the rails in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday.


Robotrain rolled into service on the (L) line, catching straphangers by surprise.


"There aren't humans driving this train? That is just crazy," said Marcel Kersey, 18, who takes the train everyday to his finance classes in the Bronx.


"I have to be honest. I'm a little afraid," said Kersey.


The train began its historic run at the Eight Avenue and 14th Street station at 12:22 a.m. It soon picked up speed and navigated the turns without losing speed.


"The future has arrived and it feels weird," said Natasha Fletcher, 22, a student from Canarsie as she enjoyed the smooth ride.


The $326 million upgrade replaces an antiquated signals and communications model that required trains be spaced far apart as they moved though different zones on the line.


Computerization should allow trains to run closer together, enabling NYC Transit to provide more frequent service.


The (L) is the first line to get the technology but NYC Transit plans on expanding it to other routes to address overcrowding - if it gets the funding.


Transit officials had planned to remove conductors from Robotrains in a cost-cutting move but had to back off because it violates the transit workers union contract.


"It is more efficient," said associate project manager, Anthony Candarini.


"It makes the trains faster and safer because the computer sensors can see things that the motormen can't."


Activating the computer has been delayed many times over the years due to software problems, technical glitches and a failure to order enough CBTC-ready subway cars.


"It's a lot of work. The system is immensely complicated because of all the switches and curves," said Candarini.


The system will first be used during overnight hours before the morning rush and then other off-peak periods.


Motormen working the Brooklyn-Manhattan line remained on board, pushing down on a button every fifteen seconds to ensure that they are alert in case of problems.


A New York City Transportation historian stood near the cabin for a front row seat for the historic ride.


"I'm very impressed with the ride," said Benjamin Schaeffer."This train has been long overdue for the city of New York."


BY Matthew Lysiak


February 24th 2009



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Wonderful! I wonder if the Auto- (L) runs faster than the T/O (L)....


I am quite dubious of that. I don't really think it would run that much faster ideally (without delays in the old set-up), however this system will allow for better control of trains and more frequency of service (probably)

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is that a stock photo or an ACTUAL photo?


No Thats an old photo.


@Y2Julio - Yes bad news for us future C/Rs and t/os. But dont worry sometimes things like these fail and we go back to normal lol


I wonder what happened to the T/Os from the (L) , where they went?

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dont you think the union will be against this? i think it sucks big time.

No. Since both T/Os and C/Rs will be on the CBTC trains, the union doesn't have a problem. The problem was that the last time the MTA tried to run it, they wanted to remove the C/Rs from trains running in CBTC with only the T/O on board which was a violation of the contract.

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I bet T/O's on the CBTC trains love it.. they get to just sit there and chill.. I know they're waiting for something to go wrong, but its still a sweet gig.


are you kidding? you know how boring that would be? just sitting there and waiting for something to happen...

at least when it was manual operation, the T/O got to move levers around (even if it was in the dark and he could barely keep himself awake), now he just sits there and waits for the system to malfunction or something. i wouldn't do that even if i got 30 or so $ an hour.

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Guess this means bad news for future train operators and conductors:(

Not for a long time.


Another blackout... what's the train going to do?

A track fire?

A pencil stuck in the threshold plate?

A chemical attack?

A person falls into the tracks, under the train? How will the train know the difference between human and track debris?

During a G.O.... when the easily lost begin to sit in corners, rocking back and forth going crazy and mumbling, completely lost... what then?

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