The MTA gears up for the holiday season
For MTA locomotive engineer Steve Hutchers, the holiday season brings out a different kind of traveler coming on and off the train. With so many people eager to go to their next destination for the holidays, there are many ways the crew and stations prepare for a huge influx of commuters.
“There’s a whole planning department that for years plan according to statistics they have gathered over time,” said Hutchers.
With the annual buzz of the holidays surrounding everyone’s daily routines, the MTA works extra hard to ensure that everything runs as best as possible and that commuters will be able to get wherever they need to efficiently.
“The MTA will adjust crews, which are the conductors, engineers, train station employees and the physical train itself to accommodate the demands of the passengers,” said Hutchers.
Most the time this will mean that instead of a four car train, there will be eight car trains, which can hold up to one thousand passengers. And instead of running trains every hour, there will be trains every half hour for the couple days leading up to holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Equipment needs to be altered according to the amount of people traveling,” Hutchers said.
By that he means the amount of cars being used, the amount of staff on hand, considering the MTA is really like a 24 hour business, there is always plenty to take into consideration when tackling not just extra people but even unexpected inclement weather.
“The crew gets extra cautious during bad weather, and we don’t get the day off like most people do if there’s a foot of snow, but really the train is the best way to go during such weather,” he said.
Despite the safety of riding a train during inclement weather, after nearly 30 years in this field of work, Hutchers says he would and will always advise people to stay home in the worst conditions, even during the holiday season.
Hutchers also discussed the kind of commuters that come out during the holiday season to travel.
“Its not your normal commuters, who would normally travel for work, during the holidays, perhaps theirs a lack of travel etiquette during this time of the year. Travelers are louder, more unaware of their surroundings, they bring unpleasant smelling foods on the trains, its just really a different crowd,” said Hutchers.
But in the case of emergencies the staff and crew of the trains are ready to make whatever changes are necessary to accommodate the public, whether it be weather conditions or the increased rate of suicide on train tracks during the holiday season.
“Statistically speaking, once in a locomotive engineers career he or she is bound to kill someone by hitting someone who jumps in front of a train” said Hutchers.
For Hutchers this statistic applied to him, not too many years ago, he experienced what it was like to hit someone operating a train at 60 miles per hour. At the time he was on a full eight-car train that had nearly one thousand passengers on it.
Despite being trained to potentially face such a situation, he never really knew what it would feel like to hit someone with train until it happened.