Subway Driver Training/Expertise

Discussion relating to the past and present operations of the NYC Subway, PATH, and Staten Island Railway (SIRT).

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JohnJ
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Subway Driver Training/Expertise

Post by JohnJ » Tue Dec 20, 2005 10:57 am

This message is not intended to offend anyone and I hope it doesn't. I'm simply trying to do some research so I can respond to a thread on a travel forum I participate in. There's an off-topic thread going on there that's debating the legality/ramifications of the NYC transit strike. One of the members on the board claims that an MTA subway driver/engineer position is unskilled labor, and compares the job's responsibilities to those of an airline aircraft cleaner (another strike tie, as Northwest Airlines' cleaners/mechanics are in the midst of a messy strike). I don't agree with his views in this matter.

This same member says that to operate a subway train there are only three controls and that's about all there is to driving it. He further says there was a strike on the Long Island Railroad while he was working there a number of years ago, and that as a non-union worker he had been scheduled to attend a 3-hour course that would qualify him to operate an LIRR train. The upshot of his comments is that subway drivers are well overpaid for what he views as an unskilled labor.

My only view into the specifics of being an MTA or LIRR engineer are the responsibilities of a freight engineer, which I consider to be quite complex, particularly in the area of rules compliance. My only rebuttal to the thread so far has been to say that Class I freight engineers earn every nickel of their pay, but I can't intelligently comment on how complex an LIRR MU or MTA subway engineer position would be. Can anyone fill in some details for me?

Thanks!

John

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Otto Vondrak
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Post by Otto Vondrak » Tue Dec 20, 2005 12:34 pm

Operating a train, no matter what environment--rapid transit, freight or passenger railroad-- carries the same complexities, rules compliance, and responsibilities across the board. While rapid transit is not governed like a regular Class 1 railroad, they still have rulebooks, signal systems, schedules, complex track layouts, and more.

Exceptions: the Kiddie Train at the amusement park. You've got me there.

-otto-
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orangeline
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Post by orangeline » Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:33 pm

There may be only three controls, but there are signs and signals (visual and auditory) and jargon that have to be learned as well as how to start/stop a train smoothly so that passengers aren't tossed about and the train doesn't over- or undershoot platforms. How long did it take you to dfrive a car efficiently after you got your learner's permit?

I realize this happened almost 90 yrs ago and train technology has greatly improved over time, but the Malbone St. wreck happened during a strike at the BRT when a replacement motorman when too fast through a sharp curve. Something like 97 passengers were killed and hundreds injured and the BRT went into receivership to emerge as the BMT.
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Post by Jtgshu » Tue Dec 20, 2005 9:17 pm

And walking is just putting one foot in front of the other.......

..........try to tell that to a one year old.

Sure, any one could probably pick up on how to operate a subway train as a motorman (how many "hijackings by trainbuffs" have there been in NYC Subway history - lots) but the training comes info play when things dont go smoothly, and things break and crisis occur. thats where experience and knowledge come into play, and hte lives of hundreds and thousands of people is not a responsibilty to be poo-pooed

But ignorance is bliss........isnt it?
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DoNotHump

Post by DoNotHump » Wed Dec 21, 2005 10:18 am

Just about EVERY job requires training, and skills.

NYPD police officers start the job making $33,000, and involves quite a lot of risk and training.

Jobs that pay less $47,000-$55,000 usually require 4 years of training, i.e. college, and do not have pensions or require employees to pay their retirement funds, NOT the tax payer. Retiring at 55 is almost unheard of from these kinds of jobs.

djlong
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Post by djlong » Wed Dec 21, 2005 1:18 pm

I have a little personal experience in this.

I think I posted this in another forum but it applies here. At the age of 14, thanks to a connection who shall remain nameless, I drove an MBTA Orange Line train for most of the trip from Malden down the old Washington St. El to Forest Hills. (The motorman took over briefly at the rather complex Dudley Sq interlocking because there were so many signals).

It literally took me seconds to learn how to do it. All the way down, I hit my marks and made one mistake on the trip (at Community College I dumped the air pressure).

That's what I would call the "Minimally Skilled" labor part. I literally drove a train in revenue service with dozens of passengers before I drove a car.

Now, to defend the motormen, they DO have training that makes it more important - if *any* kind of an emergency hit - from a power outage, to a derailment to even a distubance among the riders, they have to know how to deal with it.

hsr_fan

Post by hsr_fan » Wed Dec 21, 2005 11:11 pm

I think I'd have a heart attack if I were a motorman. Sitting in the front car of subways and PATH trains to get the view ahead, I always get nervous approaching station platforms crowded with people. I'd always be worried about who might fall or get pushed onto the tracks. I've already seen the result of one suicide-by-train up close, and that's something I hope I never see again in my life.

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Post by ryanov » Thu Dec 22, 2005 12:53 am

DoNotHump wrote:Just about EVERY job requires training, and skills.

NYPD police officers start the job making $33,000, and involves quite a lot of risk and training.

Jobs that pay less $47,000-$55,000 usually require 4 years of training, i.e. college, and do not have pensions or require employees to pay their retirement funds, NOT the tax payer. Retiring at 55 is almost unheard of from these kinds of jobs.
I don't understand why everyone WANTS to live in a world where their employer doesn't help out with their retirement. Besides, working for the state, it's almost understood that wages and respect are low, but you get good benefits. We're paying taxes for these people to operate our trains and to serve us, I don't understand why they shouldn't receive a proper wage (keep in mind, they keep saying $55k WITH overtime -- and don't say how much overitme -- and $55k in NYC is not exactly wealthy).

In addition, this is a very high stress job. Consider who gets slammed when ANYTHING goes wrong, even maintenance, etc. I'm very thankful that these people do this work so I don't have to. I'm willing to endure a week of walking (NYC could afford to lose some weight anyway) so that workers can keep their retirement and free healthcare. You know what? I'll survive.
|=| R. Novosielski |=|

DoNotHump

Post by DoNotHump » Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:13 am

How many of the 32,000 striking MTA workers do you think drive trains?

$55K a year in NYC is actually quite a lot of money.

ryanov
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Post by ryanov » Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:42 pm

Is it? Because I live in NJ and make around that and I don't consider it to be that much for even myself, let alone the average family size of 4. I know what NYC rents are -- that would cut into it a sizeable amount. Keep in mind, AGAIN, that this is WITH overtime that they make about that much (the figure the media keeps throwing around).
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Post by arrow » Sat Dec 24, 2005 8:36 pm

I believe the average salary for an employee in NYC was about $45K and you can bet that the NYCT employees have much better benefits than most other companies give.
"Please do not attempt to board the train until it has arrived in the station. Thank you."

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Post by arrow » Sat Dec 24, 2005 8:39 pm

I think I'd have a heart attack if I were a motorman. Sitting in the front car of subways and PATH trains to get the view ahead, I always get nervous approaching station platforms crowded with people. I'd always be worried about who might fall or get pushed onto the tracks. I've already seen the result of one suicide-by-train up close, and that's something I hope I never see again in my life
That's ridiculous, I don't think anyone that paranoid would be working as a train operator. So this means they should be making more money? I don't think so.
"Please do not attempt to board the train until it has arrived in the station. Thank you."

"Use Track 5 for the 5:17 local train to Raritan which has just departed."

MNRR PA OPERATOR

Subway Driver Training/Expertise

Post by MNRR PA OPERATOR » Fri Mar 24, 2006 8:31 pm

That is true, paranoid people get removed from the seat immediately, and if they dont shape up soon after, it spells doom for their Motorman/Engineer career. In Metro North, the job description is to Operate at Max authorized speed. So if ur in a 90mph territory doin like 60, the road foreman would say get out of the chair. They should not make more money for being paranoid, but they should make more money due to the heavy responsibilities they carry. No matter how rich or poor you are, when u ride any subway train, your life is in their hands. One mistake, and you all die. Sure it looks easy to be a Motorman. However, if its soo easy, why do 30,000 people take the exam based on what Motormen do, and only 200 pass? And for so long the union is fighting MTA about hiring Motormen from the street? its simple. Jus because u oogle out the window of a R32 on the E, DOES NOT MEAN U CAN RUN THE E. Its not what it looks like. I'll prove it. You are a Motorman, u are a extra extra meaning your job and assignment changes every second. On Monday, you have E-101 lets say on the overnight. Your running a R32, pulling into Van wyck blvd. Now, a passenger, maybe even a good lookin female wants to hold a conversation with you, and its 3am and you are about to go to lunch, because you only have one more trip to do. However, u did F-103 the day before on the sunday, and u had a R32 on a trip. Talkin to this nice female distracts you and u think you are an F. You Accidentally request the F lineup, and u recieve a bottom Green. All of a sudden your pulling into Sutphin and Hillside. You upset an entire train, and now for your momemtary incompetence, you are Out of Service for 30 days. Meanwhile in a regular desk job 9-5, you dont get in trouble soo easily.

ITS NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

and why do they deserve more money?

Look at the other railroads operations positions
NYCT SUBWAY MOTORMEN $27 OR SO A HOUR
AMTRAK LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER $27.62
NJ TRANSIT LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER $28
PATH LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER $30-31
LIRR LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER $29.91
MNRR LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER $34.91

they jus want their "FARE" share.
after all without them, did u see how the city cannot function without them. I work for Metro North, and during the days of the strike, pickin up NYCT slack WAS VERY HARD. and out of all the divisions of MTA, they make the most $$$$ in one day alone!

newjackRR
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Post by newjackRR » Sat Mar 25, 2006 3:13 am

Sorry DoNotHump 55k in NYC is NOT a lot of money I live here and know first hand.

djlong
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Post by djlong » Thu Apr 13, 2006 7:09 pm

Just don't forget to include the rather generous benefits.

Being paid $27/hr for a NYC subway motorman seems about fair, to me, for a mid-range average. Having heard what the health and retirement benefits are, however, you need to add a SIGNIFICANT amount of money to that figure.

A friend of mine who is paying for his own *minimal* health insurance is paying $1000/mo for his family - and I can imagine it would be more expensive in NYC. So if it's $12,000/year, you're looking at about a $6/hr or so "benefit" right there. Not having the numbers and actuarial tables handy, I can't make the same computation for retirement benefits.

Yeah, operating a train under normal circumstances seems pretty easy, but that's not what the training is for - it's for handling all those NOT normal situations so that you immediately know what to do no matter what happens.

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