The MTA has pushed back plans to automate the L train to next year, as they work on working out the kinks and convincing the public that the line will work. In fact, when the MTA tested the automated L train over the weekend, the sole motorman made many mistakes; Newsday reports:
The failed exercise lasted less than an hour. It ended when the motorman, a train service supervisor with years on the job, mistakenly pulled an emergency alarm box in the subway tunnel, shutting off track power and stalling several other trains along the L line.
Eek! But Gothamist guesses why there is a testing period. The test was a drill to see how the lone motorman would act in a smoking tunnel situation, complete with smoke simulators pumping white smoke, not real black smoke, and 100 mock riders. Newsday's account is pretty chilling, because the motorman didn't follow every single procedure, such as making sure passengers left the train cars, when the firefighters asked the mock riders, "What's your condition?" one said, "We're dead now." Gothamist is thinking it'll be many years before the other lines are automated.
Check out L train photos on Flickr. And Gothamist previously on L line automation.