Friday, November 17, 2006

Driving That Train...

So the other day I was on an uptown 4 train and at 59th Street a few MTA and DEP workers go on the train and the conductor opened the door to his cab to let them in. The train proceeds to crawl along until we stop somewhere in the dark tunnel. The conductor gets out of his cab and turns a key to open door to the train; in walk two MTA workers from the tracks, he closes the door and starts the train up again.

I'm thinking to myself, hey that's pretty cool, those dudes just got picked up in the middle of the tunnel. The train continues to crawl...jerking forward quickly for about 10 feet and then rolling slowly for 30 feet...all at around walking pace...sloooow- really watching it's speed.

Through the window I can hear running water. Uh oh, trouble ahead! Looking out, I can see a river of flowing water on the opposite tracks, the water's height nearly reaching that of the metal tracks themselves. The notion crossed my mind that we might get stuck! The thought of spending a night on a train-argh, take my advice, you'd be better off dead.

As we move on, the door to the conductor's cab opens and I hear a man barking directions at the conductor. "What street are we at?" "Move forward" "Stop". The conductor stops the train, the guy in the DEP uniform walks out of the cab and the conductor opens the side door to let him off the train. DEP man looks around outside the train for a few minutes to the consternation of both passengers and conductor- "Come on, I gotta get these people moving". DEP guy gets back on the train. It's around a quarter to ten now, and we're traveling again.

This time they leave the door to the conductor's cab open slightly as they move the train. I hear rushing water getting louder and louder. Finally we see lots of track workers around and the DEP guy makes the conductor stop the train and he gets out. Train moves on past a waterfall of water coming in from the right side of the tunnel, visible through the headlight on this northbound train, shining it's light through it as if it were nothing but cool Colorado rain. This was all caused by a broken steam pipe by the way.

So in summary, DEP has more power than the MTA, a box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through, and while annoying and slightly inconveniencing me and an entire trainful of passengers, a guy from the DEP did one of the coolest things ever- he controlled an NYC subway train as if it was his own personal vehicle, complete with driver.