OPTO L Trains Have Mind Of Their Own

Over the last number of years, the MTA & Transport Workers Union Local 100 (TWU Local 100) has engaged in many individual battles in their entire war. One of the bigger ones had to do with the MTA looking to cut back on employees by having some trains run under “OPTO” service.

The service which features a one man train operator & no conductor has been in place for years on the L. The union has long been against this service due to it cutting the need for more workers. Their rallying point against it has always centered around safety concerns.

Their viewpoint was highlighted in a report on Friday by Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News. According to the paper, some OPTO trains started to operate in an unsafe manner on their own prompting MTA NYC Transit to temporarily halt the use of the service:

Some Robotrains have been going rogue on the L line, prompting NYC Transit to temporarily suspend the high-tech operation, the Daily News has learned.

In one incident, a train that was stopped at a Brooklyn platform took off on its own – traveling three to five feet before a crew member on board hit the emergency brakes, NYC Transit confirmed yesterday.

With two other similar incidents recently on the Brooklyn-to-Manhattan line, the agency suspended use of the computerized train control system on Aug. 16, NYC Transit said in a statement yesterday.

Train service continued the old-fashioned way – with motormen doing the driving, not computers – until software fixes were finished last weekend, the agency said.

The so-called Robotrains are part of an expensive package of upgrades involving subway signals, switches and onboard computers that only exists on the L line.

But to critics like Kevin Harrington, a vice president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, glitches are warnings that this system is potentially dangerous.

Click here for the complete report.

I have never been a fan of this service. While I am for using technology to improve our system, I think there are instances where things should be left alone & this is a case that applies. Part of the problem is the technology installed for this service was pretty much installed over aging equipment.

If this is to be successful, the whole operation should have been gutted & built out from scratch. Mixing a hybrid of technologies usually leads to conflicting issues like this. Thankfully no one has been hurt in any of these incidents. Let us hope that this situation gets resolved as soon as possible.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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