Home Asides A train operator takes questions

A train operator takes questions

by Benjamin Kabak

As part of its “Taking Questions” series, The Times’ City Room blog hosted Dennis Boyd, a TO along the 4 line last week. He answered three sets of questions about his job and his views on working underground (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). I found his answers very illuminating because it presents a view New Yorkers rarely see. We know that trains enter and leave stations; we know two people are responsible for their operations; but we don’t know why some express don’t wait for local trains or what the various markings and signal patterns mean. In Part 1, Boyd talks about the new automated announcements and how his job changed. In Part 2, he talks about why Lexington Ave. express trains crawl up and down the line at rush hour, and in Part 3, Boyd delves into train delays. Good stuff.

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JP June 10, 2010 - 9:40 pm

fun read! thanks for posting this one Ben!

Chicken Underwear June 11, 2010 - 7:24 am

Q. Which Gets There First – Express or Local? Let’s say we’re taking the subway from an express station and getting off on another express stop down the line. (Ex.: IND 8th W4 to 42nd, or IND 6th W4 to B’way/Laf.) When we arrive on the platform, both a local and an express train are waiting on the tracks, doors open; neither has the orange ‘hold’ lights. How can we find out whether the express train or the local will get to our intended destination first? Never have figured that one out.

— Posted by Je couPe

The express should always get to the next point faster. But at times there are problems on the tracks ahead on either the express or local tracks, such as stop signals or a stalled train, which will cause a service delay on that track.

Todd June 11, 2010 - 8:46 am

The radio call to command center for a person who has fallen under a train is “12-9.” …this occurred an average of three times per week in the last year.

Woah. I knew it happened, but three times a week seems like a lot.

Scott E June 11, 2010 - 9:08 am

That shocked me as well, and I originally misread it as passengers who had fallen onto the tracks, whether or not a train was arriving. Re-reading the words “under a train” makes it even more shocking. But this article from 10 years ago says they occur on a regular basis. And apparently the number has increased in recent years.


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