Home Asides A different take on the CBTC’d L trains

A different take on the CBTC’d L trains

by Benjamin Kabak

Earlier this week, amNew York’s Heather Haddon reported on some problems plaguing the CBTC tests on the L train. According to union workers who stand to lose their jobs if CBTC is deemed a success, now and then a train on autopilot overshoots the platform and, per Transit regulations, has to proceed to the next station.

Today, the Daily News ran the other half of this labor/Transit war. Pete Donohue reports that the CBTC test is running smoothly. Transit has deployed ten of these trains along the BMT Canarsie Line, and Transit’s chief engineer says the CBTC trains have the tracks and red light system down pat. “There can be no human error,” she said.

So what’s really going on here is a battle in the papers. Union leaders and members know that CBTC can cost jobs, and Transit officials know that CBTC can improve track capacity. The debate between technological efficiency and jobs has long raged in the workplace, and the MTA is just another arena for it.

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6 comments

Mad Park June 12, 2009 - 12:25 pm

“Union greed is not a victimless crime” – unknown

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jama June 12, 2009 - 1:19 pm

it’ll be a tough sell now that the public is going through daily anxiety attacks about any sort of job loss… be it from lay offs or technological advances.

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hihat June 12, 2009 - 2:53 pm

Just curious what the CBTC will do if you get stuck in the door? Is there a mechanism already in place that will automatically reopen them, like a garage door? I’m running under the assumption that the regular (non-CBTC) train doors are manually controlled by the driver, but I’m not sure.

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Paul June 12, 2009 - 3:05 pm

The TA will not allow the ATO to operate the doors because the computer will not be able to close on people like the the TA wants during rush hours. A person will always work the doors.

CBTC and ATO are 2 different things even though Ben seems to think otherwise.

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Benjamin Kabak June 12, 2009 - 3:10 pm

I’m not the only person who thinks otherwise. Automated train operation is an element of communications-based train controls. In this case, the ATO functions won’t be implemented.

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anonymouse June 15, 2009 - 11:29 am

ATO is NOT an element of CBTC, but it can be built on top of CBTC quite easily, and often is. ATO can exist without CBTC, and CBTC can exist without ATO (as in fact it has been on the L line for a while now). People also tend to be confused about Train Operators and Conductors. The Conductor is the guy in the middle of the train who opens and closes the door and watches to make sure nobody is stuck in said doors. The Train Operator is at the front of the train driving the train. The MTA wants to go to One Person Train Operation (which is already used on some lines), where there is only one person, at the front of the train, responsible for both driving the train and working the doors. The ATO system (which is built on top of CBTC) makes this job somewhat easier since the Train Operator no longer has to actually drive the train, instead he just supervises the computer.

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