Subway conductors, what do they do all day? Good question! And look, Reddit has gone and gotten a real live subway conductor to answer that question and oh so many more. Like, do conductors ever see mole people, what's with the pointing up when trains pull into stations, what is the code for when a person has jumped in front of your train, what line is the most fun to conduct, and more.
Really the whole thing is an interesting read for any subway geeks out there, but here are some of our favorite question and answers:
Do you ever see mole people? I haven't seen them in person, but I have seen some "dens" in the tunnels, nowhere near stations. Pray you don't ever need to be evacuated through an emergency exit...I sure as hell do!
What's with pointing up when you stop at a station? We're pointing at the conductor's indication board, which is a zebra-striped sign. If the sign is in front of my window, it means that the entire train is on the platform. They don't trust us to just look (see that other question about zoning out), so required procedure is to point to it at every station before we open the doors.
The absolute biggest violation a conductor can make is opening the doors where there isn't a platform. If that ever happens, the first thing supervision is going to ask you is "did you point to the board?".
Is 'sick passenger' really a code for suicide attempt? No, sick passenger is code for "dead customer ON the train". Often times it actually IS a sick passenger though - sick usually refers to some kind of bodily injury, rather than someone puking or passing out, and the delays are mainly from the MTA doing an investigation to cover their asses when that customer eventually files a lawsuit.
"Police investigation" is the code for a suicide by train. Service will be disrupted for about a half hour, usually. I've seen it mess up things for as long as 3 hours though.
What's the best way to a) get help if someone is sick or being attacked and b) when DO you pull the emergency brake? a. On the newer trains, every car has an Emergency Intercom. Press the button and wait for the light to turn on and you can speak to the conductor. Let me know there's a sick passenger and I will radio for EMS to meet the train at the next station. Note that these intercoms are for EMERGENCIES, not for asking directions. Furthermore, everything spoken on them gets recorded.
On the older trains, come to the middle of the train, or wave/shout to me from your door at the next stop.
b. The only time the emergency brake should EVER be pulled is if a customer is in danger of being injured/killed by the moving train (their tie is stuck in the door, etc), or if a parent and child get separated due to the closing doors.
FACT: on the newer trains, once the train is 1000 feet outside the station, all that pulling the emergency brake will do is set off an alarm in my cab, so that we can bring the train to a controlled stop. This is because there is almost no reason why a customer would need to activate the brake between stations, and too many of them pull them for the wrong reasons. Activating the emergency brake guarantees that the train will be stopped for at least 8 minutes, as a full investigation needs to be performed and there is a penalty timer before the train can be recharged.
What's your favorite line and train car as a conductor?The 4 train. 1 hour end to end, not many stations (only 5 stations in Brooklyn!), and Manhattan is a breeze since there's a big turnover of customers at just about every station. The only time I ever do any work on that line is in the Bronx, and even there, at least every station is straight, which makes it much easier to see what is happening at the ends of the platforms.
The newer trains have their pros and cons, but I prefer them. It's less work for me to do, and is easier on my throat, but some of the technology (the manual PA and intercom) never works right, and the pre-recorded announcements and doors are much slower, so it's harder to keep things paced.
The taking of pelham 123.. original or the remake? They both have their merits. I think the remake did a nice job bringing the story into the 21st century, but the acting and script was much much better in the original.
If, god forbid, I fall onto the tracks or someone I am willing to risk my life for falls into the tracks and is knocked out - and a train is coming (lets say 30sec away) - what should I do? Are those pits between the rails by the platforms made for people to hide in in a worst case scenario? The best thing you can do is run as far down the platform as you can (in the opposite direction from where the train enters the station) and wave your arms frantically to get the train operator and passenger's attention. Believe me, the passengers WILL be doing the exact same thing, as nobody wants to see you get run over and their train get delayed. If you can get to the far end of the platform, it gives the train more room to stop, and there is a ladder at the end of each platform where you can climb back up -- do NOT try to climb up from where you are. So many people have been killed trying to jump back up rather than getting away from the entrance end of the station.
Do NOT trust the pits between the tracks --- they are often right next to the third rail which can be just as dangerous (and note that the wooden planks are not designed to hold a human's weight - they are there to protect the energized rail from drips and weather) and the train operator is less likely to see you if you're in there. And don't duck under the train, because most stations do not have enough clearance for the average human. And do NOT jump down onto the tracks to try to save someone else. The best thing you can do is run on the platform towards the tunnel where the train enters so you can get the operator's attention sooner. Waving your arms over the tracks will tell the operator to stop immediately.