The day that Metro-North died


Commuting has been an experience from the get-go.  I very much love my train rides overall; they’re generally quiet, uneventful, relaxing (who wants to drive in that traffic?) and I use the time for myself: To read, solve a few logic puzzles, or, best of all, nap.  Of course, when things go wrong, it’s usually pretty bad, and last night was a doozy.

Upon arriving at Grand Central Terminal (where I was in a hurry; only three minutes before my normal 8:06 was to depart) I noticed most of the upcoming trains had no track assignments and their descriptions were replaced with a stand by message.  I boarded the train… and waited.  Eventually announcements started getting made that all trains in and out of Grand Central were indefinitely suspended.

It turns out that the master system responsible for managing signals had a power failure, and all trains on all three Metro-North lines had to come to a stop while the system was given temporary power and rebooted. Among the things that could happen to the trains, this was a biggie, and although it affected a lot of people, it was only mildly inconvenient compared to a couple of days earlier when a train ripped down power lines and sat, powerless and cold, for hours.


I opted, after waiting around for an hour, to settle for the comforts of a New York hotel room, and got actually a pretty nice deal on a room at one of my favorite hotels in the city, the Courtyard by Marriott in Herald Square (great location and views, and very comfortable).

Most of the time, the commute, as I said at the outset, is relatively unremarkable.  Sure, the trains are late (they always seem late), and occasionally finding a seat is a challenge, but overall, I find it vastly better than the alternatives.  But when things do go astray, which has been the case a lot in the past year in particular, it seems to happen in spectacular fashion. The past twelve months have seen way too many incidents and it’s concerning; I hope that the appropriate people are paying attention and intervene before things devolve further.

A fun little side note out of all this: My friend Jamie DeLoma, who I’ve known for years through the Connecticut Post, retweeted a photo I took at Grand Central (I also sent a few shots over to the Post; old habits die hard).  What followed was quite a few retweets, including from Congressman Jim Himes, and requests from various media outlets to use the photo.


The photo ultimately popped up in a lot of amazing places (, and on the air on CBS 2 New York).  More than ten years ago, when I took photos during Fairfield University’s hostage situation and a couple were ultimately moved on the Associated Press wire, I got paid.  Today, you settle for attribution from people who find it on Twitter (which thankfully, most provided generously, and I’ve got screenshots for posterity). But it’s still fun to have a part in it. And for those in Fairfield County, the shoreline Hearst Connecticut Newspapers (Greenwich Time, Stamford Advocate and Connecticut Post) all used the photo on the inside of today’s news section, which is also cool!

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