Hamptons Subway Newsletter: Week of June 16–22, 2017

Billy Joel rode the Hamptons Subway
Billy Joel rode the Hamptons Subway, Photo: Stephen Lovekin, littleny/Getty Images Entertainment, istock/Thinkstock

Week of June 16–22, 2017
Riders this past week: 31,842
Rider miles this past week: 196,412

Singer Billy Joel and author Colson Whitehead were seen talking together as they took the subway from Bridgehampton to Sag Harbor last Wednesday. Madonna was on the same train, carrying a saddle, seated in another car.

Our team of subway platform pushers, who work on the platforms to keep people moving on and off the trains during the summertime, are easily identified by their red Hamptons Subway helmets, boxing gloves and chest protectors. Their job is to gently push hesitating riders to where they have to go. Last Tuesday at 5 p.m., two pushers, who will remain nameless, got into a fight with each other over who was pushing who. Both are in Southampton Hospital recovering from superficial injuries. Commissioner Aspinall visited them. But only once. They have been fired. And never fear, our interns working without pay can’t sue anybody. They sign a contract to that effect. Hope they find new jobs more suitable to their temperaments soon.

As President Trump has promised a multibillion-dollar overhaul of bridges, roads and other infrastructure in the upcoming years, Hamptons Subway has sent off a laundry list of repairs needed on our facilities. Particularly bad is the big underground bump as the train winds its way under Trout Pond in Noyac. The subway has not been renovated, painted or properly cleaned since it was built in 1927.

Hamptons Subway is the only subway line in the U.S. that still uses flagmen to signal the motormen to stop, go slow or proceed. The flagmen have to constantly wave one of the flags at the oncoming trains—green, orange and red. Psychological studies have been done about the emotional state of our flagmen, and there was a famous paper on the subject published in Motormen News in 1981. For that reason, our motormen work four-hour shifts and are encouraged to enjoy cocktails, beer and shots during their break, which comes 15 minutes after the second hour.

In the late 1980s, the motormen were replaced for a time by the computerized light systems other subway systems had begun to use, but after three years and seventeen crashes, the computers were abandoned. It was found they often did not issue the orange or red warning lights in time to stop the trains. Computers were in their infancy then. After a computer fire in that third year, the computers were abandoned and the motormen, who had been on strike in the interval, got their jobs back. Also, the Commissioner ordered, and got, a whole new set of subway trains to restore the depleted rolling stock.


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