2 & 3 Train Service Alert

The MTA has posted a service alert regarding & train service. The alert reads:

Due to track maintenance at the Central Park North-110th Street Station, & trains are running with delays in both directions.

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Transit Employee Impersonator Busted Again

Darius McCollum being taken out of the 59th St.-Columbus Circle station by cops. Photo courtesy of Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

I apologize for not getting to this story sooner. I had planned on doing so but got caught up. Over the weekend, the infamous Darius McCollum was busted for once again impersonating a transit employee. Darius, well known by transit employees & officials in all the tri-state area’s agencies was busted Saturday morning after entering a restricted area in the 59th St. – Columbus Circle station. Here is the story from different media sources, starting with Newsday:

A Queens man whose childhood fascination with trains grew into a lifelong obsession that frequently has crossed legal lines was arrested again Saturday in the Columbus Circle station, dressed as a subway track worker as he crossed into a restricted area, police said.

Darius McCollum’s arrest on an uptown No. 1 platform was the 24th time he has been picked up in and around the city’s trains and buses since the early 1980s. His rap sheet includes an infamous incident in which a 15-year-old McCollum, who grew up near a station in Jamaica, drove an E train safely through lower Manhattan.

“That was his best day, the best day that ever happened to him,” said his mother, Liz McCollum, who insisted Saturday that her son never posed a threat to trains or riders.

“He could have been the best thing that ever happened to the [Metropolitan Transit Authority],” she said in a telephone interview from her home in North Carolina.

Police spotted McCollum, 43, early Saturday in the Times Square station dressed in a hard hat, blue shirt and pants “extremely similar” to those worn by track workers, and gloves bearing the NYC Transit logo, police said. The cops followed him onto an uptown No. 1 train to Columbus Circle, where he exited.

McCollum was arrested after he pushed aside a barricade and entered a restricted area shortly after 2 a.m. McCollum also was carrying a backpack containing a flashlight, tools and “sensitive” transit documents, police said.

Liz McCollum said her son, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a type of autism, was working in a Budweiser warehouse in North Carolina until November, when he unexpectedly left to return to New York.

McCollum was charged with criminal impersonation, criminal trespass and possession of burglar tools.

McCollum was in and out of jail throughout the 1980s and 1990s after being nabbed for sneaking into train yards, driving buses and carrying stolen identification. His last arrest was in 2006.

Daily News:

They tracked him down again.

Transit buff Darius McCollum, whose subway obsession has already led to 23 arrests, was busted again Saturday for impersonating an MTA worker in the Columbus Circle station, police said.

His latest legal train wreck comes nearly three decades after his first: As a teen, he commandeered an E train full of unsuspecting passengers for a ride to lower Manhattan.

He’s grown up now, but McCollum is still fixated on New York’s underground, cops said.

The 43-year-old McCollum was sporting a hardhat, a knapsack, a flashlight and gloves with a Transit Authority logo yesterday when he was arrested without incident at 2:12 a.m.

Police said McCollum, dressed in the blue T-shirt and work pants typically worn by track workers, was grabbed as he tried to enter a restricted area of the midtown station.

The heavyset suspect was led from the station in handcuffs about 10 hours after his arrest, shaking his head and moaning but saying nothing.

He was charged with criminal impersonation, criminal trespass and possession of burglary tools – a hammer and screwdiver tucked in his backpack.

McCollum’s history of transit transgressions – he’s the Willie Sutton of the subways – made him instantly recognizable to members of the NYPD Transit Queens Task Force, police said.

The Queens resident was spotted boarding a Manhattan-bound No. 7 train, with the officers following McCollum as he transferred in Times Square to an uptown No. 1 train.

He was arrested after moving a sawhorse and trying to enter a door clearly marked as restricted to transit personnel only, police said. His knapsack also held subway system maps, station layouts and train schedules, police said.

According to state prison records, McCollum was released from the Downstate Correctional Facility on July 3, 2007 – nine months after his arrest for violating parole by returning to the city from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He was carrying an MTA badge, a hardhat and how-to manuals on running trains when he was arrested.

His first brush with the law came in 1981, when a 15-year-old McCollum commandeered the controls of an E train. The teen drove unsuspecting passengers from 34th St. to the World Trade Center.

He was busted again in June 2004 for trying to steal a 60-ton locomotive from a Long Island Rail Road yard in Queens – and sent, presumably by bus, to Sing Sing. He violated parole soon after being released in 2006.

New York Times:

Darius McCollum knows the New York City Transit system well. Perhaps too well.

For about a quarter of a century, he has taken trains and buses for joy rides and impersonated Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers, racking up 23 transit-related arrests. The first came in 1981, after he drove the E train to the World Trade Center. He was last in the news in 2006, when he was charged with criminal impersonation.

Mr. McCollum, 43, of East Elmhurst, Queens, was arrested again on Saturday after he tried to pass himself off as a subway worker, the police said.

When he was arrested, just after 2 a.m. on the platform at the 59th Street/Columbus Circle subway station, he was wearing navy blue clothes similar to a transit uniform, and had a hard hat, transit-logo gloves, a knapsack and documents related to the transit system in his possession, the police said.

He faces charges of criminal trespass, criminal impersonation and possession of burglary tools, the police said. Five of his previous arrests included stealing buses, the police said.

His latest journey into handcuffs started in Queens, when he boarded the No. 7 train at the 103rd Street station and rode it — as a normal passenger — into Manhattan, debarking at a Times Square station, the police said.

There, his history caught up with him. Officers spotted him posing as an employee and recognized that, despite his blue outfit, he was not a genuine transit worker.

They followed him when he got on a northbound No. 1 train. When he debarked at the Columbus Circle station and entered an area sealed off to the public, the police took him into custody.

Speaking from the station, Officer Martin Brown, a police spokesman, said that he was wearing transit clothes to make people think he was an employee.

Mr. McCollum did not speak to reporters while he was being placed into a black car by detectives. A large man, he hung his bald head low and shuffled forward, his hands cuffed behind his back.

Mr. McCollum’s mother, Elizabeth, 82, said her son had Asperger’s syndrome and had a lifelong obsession with trains.

She said she had last heard from her son three days ago, when he told her he would arrive at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Thursday, taking a Greyhound bus from New York City. But he never showed up.

She said he had been living in Queens with her niece and had told her that he was working in a warehouse.

“They arrest him every time if he has got on anything that looks like transit clothes,” she said by telephone.

She said she and her husband, Samuel, had tried many times over the years to keep Mr. McCollum, who is their only child, from being arrested again by trying to persuade him to stay with them in North Carolina. But to no avail. He slips away and returns to New York City.

“He just loves New York,” she said. “He knows the people in Transportation. And he goes up there to be around them.”

His mother said that she had been telling him that “he has got to learn,” and added that hiring lawyers for him over the years had put her in debt.

But she said he needed help.

“With all these kids who are autistic, they slip behind the cracks, but nobody is trying to help him at all,” she said. “I tried when I lived in New York. Every time he was arrested he wasn’t hurting anybody, and nobody could figure out what is his problem.”

She said that sometimes, when he was younger and they were living in Jamaica, Queens, she did not know where he was and people would tell her he was in the subway. “I used to call them and go down there and look for him,” she said.

She said that he would put together model trains and other toys with ease: “We had all kinds of toys, like trains and monorails, and different kinds of things when he was growing up. And he went on to bigger and better things.”

This is a sad case as I truly feel bad for Darius. While under no circumstances are his actions justifiable, I know that sending him to prison will do no good. It is obvious that he is not your average criminal. He clearly has a disability which is what triggers his potentially dangerous transit related acts. If he really was trying to hurt somebody, he would have done so by now. He obviously wants & needs to be close to our transit system, trains specifically.

What good would prison do? He would eventually get out & probably make a new attempt. While he clearly has a strong knowledge of our system, it is also obvious that this intelligence does that transfer over to the basic common sense principles that most have (but usually chose not to use). If he did, would he really attempt any sort of action within our system when he is so easily recognizable by just about anyone? The answer is obviously no.

I seriously hope Darius gets the help he truly needs!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Emergency A Train Service Diversion

The MTA has announced an emergency service diversion since I updated the sidebar on Friday. The diversion is for Monday only & will effect train service. The diversion is as followed:

All southbound trains (Lefferts Blvd. & Far Rockaway) will terminate at Euclid Avenue between 10:15 a.m. & 3:15 p.m. Shuttle buses will run in its place between Euclid Avenue & both Lefferts Boulevard & Howard Beach/JFK Airport. For service to Far Rockaway, riders must take the shuttle bus to Howard Beach-JFK Airport & transfer to the shuttle train.

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LIRR Queens Interlocking Project Starts Tomorrow!

For Long Island Rail Road riders, don’t forget to find out the latest schedule changes as a major construction project starts tomorrow & will alter many train schedules. Here is the complete information courtesy of the MTA:

Customer Impacts
Most Rush Hour Service:

  • Some trains will be canceled or combined.
  • Reverse Peak customers on the Hempstead Branch will be provided with buses between Queens Village and Hempstead in the AM and between Hempstead and Bellerose to Jamaica in the PM.
  • All branches will experience adjustments of up to 10 minutes for stopping times and connections. Timetables dated June 16 will include the changes.
  • New timetables and informational flyers will be available at stations.

AM Peak Service Changes
Hempstead Branch

June 16 through August 29:

  • The 7:23 AM train from Hempstead to Flatbush Avenue will be temporarily canceled. Alternate service at stations Hempstead through Stewart Manor and Bellerose will be available 13 minutes earlier or 18 minutes later. Service from Floral Park, Queens Village and Hollis will be available between 3 and 4 minutes earlier.

June 30 through August 22:

  • The 8:45 AM train from Hempstead to Flatbush Avenue will be temporarily canceled. Alternate service at stations Hempstead through Stewart Manor and Bellerose will be available 25 minutes earlier or 24 minutes later. Service from Floral Park, Queens Village and Hollis will be available 4 minutes earlier.

Port Jefferson Branch
June 16 through August 29:

  • The 6:18 AM train from Port Jefferson will depart one minute earlier at 6:17 AM and will have an added stop at Huntington at 7:02 AM.
  • The 6:45 AM Port Jefferson to Hunterspoint Avenue train will operate 2 minutes earlier and will terminate at Huntington, where customers will transfer to the 7:36 AM departure, which will have an added stop at Jamaica. Hunterspoint Avenue customers will arrive at their destination 6 minutes later.
  • The 7:12 AM train from Huntington will temporarily originate in Cold Spring Harbor at 7:11 AM and will have an added stop at Hicksville.
  • The 7:28 AM train from Cold Spring Harbor will temporarily originate from Huntington at 7:22 AM.

PM Peak Service Changes
Ronkonkoma Branch
June 16 through August 29:

  • The 4:24 PM train from Penn Station to Ronkonkoma will have an added stop at Jamaica.
  • The 4:34 PM train from Flatbush Avenue to Ronkonkoma will be temporarily canceled. Alternate service for stations New Hyde Park through Hicksville will be available 3 minutes earlier. Service for Bethpage through Ronkonkoma will be available 14 minutes earlier.

Hempstead Branch
June 16 through August 29:

  • The 6:14 PM train from Flatbush Avenue to Hempstead will terminate at Garden City. Bus service will be provided to Country Life Press and Hempstead. June 30 through August 22:
  • The 7:05 PM Penn Station to Hempstead train will be canceled. Alternate service will be available 10 minutes earlier or 28 minutes later.

Reverse Peak Service Changes
Ronkonkoma Branch
June 16 through August 29:

  • The 7:13 PM weekday train from Ronkonkoma to Penn Station will originate at Central Islip at 7:20 PM. A bus connecting with this train will depart Ronkonkoma at 6:50 PM (23 minutes earlier than normal train service). Alternate train service is available from Ronkonkoma at 7:45 PM.

Hempstead Branch
June 30 through August 22:

Due to the need to close one of two main tracks on the Hempstead Branch for most of this project, it is not possible to operate normal Reverse Peak service to and from Hempstead. In the morning, three Reverse Peak trains will be canceled, with no eastbound train service to stations Bellerose through Hempstead between 6:30 AM and 9:30 AM. Eastbound train service will be provided to Hollis and Queens Village, and bus service will be provided from Queens Village to stations Bellerose through Hempstead.

In the PM, three reverse peak trains are canceled, with no westbound service from stations Hempstead through Bellerose between 4:50 PM and 7:00 PM. Westbound service from stations Hempstead through Bellerose will be provided by buses to Jamaica. Main Line trains making extra stops will provide westbound service from Floral Park, Queens Village and Hollis. Alternate bus service will add up to 25 minutes of travel time. During construction, LIRR employees will be assigned to assist customers with alternate bus service.

Off Peak Service Changes
Port Jefferson Branch
On weekends, during certain times, half-hourly service will be reduced to hourly service at Huntington, Cold Spring Harbor and Syosset stations.

  • To allow construction activity to progress, stops have been added or removed from certain trains during the midday and overnight Off Peak periods. In addition, weekday schedule adjustments of up to 48 minutes and running time additions of up to 6 minutes have been added to some trains. Weekend schedule adjustments of up to 23 minutes and running time additions of up to 9 minutes have been added to some trains.

Please note that these changes will impact branches throughout our system, including branches that do not pass through the construction area, due to the need for trains to make connections at Jamaica as well as capacity constraints at Jamaica and western terminals.

Major Weekend Changes
Hempstead Branch –
Weekend of June 21-22:

Signal testing and installation will require a 48-hour shutdown of the Hempstead Branch. Buses will replace all weekend trains between Hempstead and Jamaica. Hempstead Branch customers should expect added travel time of up to 25 minutes.

To avoid delays, customers may wish to travel on other branches this weekend.
Main Line & Hempstead Branch –
Weekend of August 23-24

A signal cutover will require a 48-hour suspension of service on the Main Line between Jamaica and Mineola on the weekend of August 23-24. This suspension of service will affect Ronkonkoma, Port Jefferson, Oyster Bay and Hempstead branch tracks through this area, and require busing and some train diversions. Details of schedule adjustments and alternate service will be announced as the date approaches.

To avoid delays, customers should plan on taking the Babylon or Montauk branches this weekend.

Travel Tips
New timetables will be in effect from Monday, June 16 through September 1. Regular schedules will resume on Tuesday, September 2. Here are some tips for coping with the temporary schedule changes:

  • Pick up timetables dated June 16 – September 1 for your branch
  • Listen for announcements on track, platform and schedule changes
  • Call the LIRR’s 24-hour Travel Information Center for schedule information
  • Check the LIRR website for schedule changes and service advisories
  • Sign up for Customer E-Mail Notifications
  • Check the Penn Message Boards for updates
  • Look for additional LIRR personnel at Jamaica and Queens Village for assistance with alternate bus service
  • Listen to radio and TV traffic reports for daily service updates

We thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to complete these infrastructure improvements in the shortest time frame possible.

Here is the link to the pdf that you should print & carry with you if you are unable to use your phone to access Transit Blogger.

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Most Extreme Commuter Yet

As you might recall, I have blogged about the AMNY feature “Extreme Commuter” which showcases riders who have extreme daily commutes. Today’s extreme commuter in my opinion deserves the championship belt for the most extreme commute if such a belt existed. Marlene Naanes of AMNY has brought us a new extreme commuter today & his name is Kevin Crowley. So why is his commute so extreme? Well lets just say he uses 3 different forms of transportation to get to work & lives about 500 miles away from his job in Queens! Here is Marlene’s report courtesy of AMNY:

Kevin Crowley travels almost 500 miles to work everyday.

The fact that he works for JetBlue helps speed up his lengthy commute from Buffalo to the airline’s headquarters in Kew Gardens. As an employee, Crowley, 36, hops on a plane for free every morning, but his entire commute isn’t that simple.

“I take a car to the airport. I take an airplane down here. I get on a train,” he said. “So it’s trains, planes and automobiles everyday for me.”

For the past four years, Crowley has traveled from Buffalo for his job as a JetBlue safety analyst. He usually begins his commute with a drive to the airport at 5 a.m. to catch a 5:45 flight from Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Once he arrives in the city, he takes the JFK AirTrain to the E train and arrives in Kew Gardens by about 7:30 a.m.

“There’s a lot of people that I work with that commute in from Long Island or that commute in from New Jersey and their commute is almost as long as mine except I live 500 miles away and take an airplane to work,” Crowley said.

While he get to ride on a comfy leather seat and can watch direct TV, read the newspaper or nap on his way to work, storms can exponentially add to his 2-1/2 hour commute. Crowley said he’s been stranded at the airport for up to six hours a couple of times.

He admits that typically by Wednesday, he’s waiting for the week to end.

If his commute was shorter, he could devote more time to his family, remodeling his house, or playing hockey, Crowley said. He keeps his home in Buffalo to benefit from the reduced cost of living. He currently owns a 3,000-square-foot home in a historical district.

“We may not have two professional baseball teams, and two professional football teams, and two professional basketball teams and everything else, but it’s that closer community feeling that you get living up there that’s enjoyable,” Crowley said.

I also suggest you check out the interview with Kevin which can be seen by clicking here.

All I can say is WOW!

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