I just finished reading a wildly fascinating AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit from a NYC MTA train conductor. I learned so many things and so many things I’ve always wondered about I now have answers to.

Just a few to make note of:

  1. Letter trains are wider than number trains. In all the years of riding NYC transit, I have never noticed this. The differences are minimal (just a few inches at most), but still, I always felt like the opposite was true. I guess I was wrong.
  2. The magic Metrocard amount is $39.95. It gives you a bonus of $2.80, leaving you with exactly 19 rides at $2.25 each. Of course, this will change when fares go up.
  3. The Williamsburg Bridge section on the M line is the slowest section in the entire NYC transit. This is due to an earlier rear-ending accident which resulted in motormen now being required to go at certain speeds while crossing the bridge to prevent another similar accident.
  4. Platform conductors (the people who wave flashlights down the length of the train in Subway stations) are often there because of a medical condition or because of a misconduct investigation.
  5. 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.

If you want to find out more about the inner workings of the MTA, read the rest of the AMA at Reddit.