Well, that’s comforting

Just when you finally managed to stop pondering all of the things that could go wrong when riding the NYC Subway, it turns out that the computer system that controls the trains crashed for a few minutes yesterday.

It was only “down” for a few moments.  However, when it came back online, the system was unable to find many of the trains in the system.

The system that crashed only controls the numbered lines.  While the system went down and recovered, many trains were forced remain in stations or mid-tunnels while dispatchers manually radioed individual trains to determine their location.  Yikes.

Perhaps some of the MTA employees that read SUBWAYblogger could enlighten us on why the computer can’t locate trains after a reboot.  I assume the trains have to pass some sort of sensor on the track.  So if the trains weren’t moving, they hadn’t passed over a sensor since the reboot.

BREAKING: Station at 53rd Street & 7th Ave Evacuated

MTA Website Showing Delays
MTA Website Showing Delays

Apparently there is a strange odor at the 53rd and 7th station that has caused it to be evacuated.

B, D, and E trains are bypassing the station at this time, and last we heard, passengers are not being allowed to enter the station.  However, the MTA says the V train is running with residual delays.  So I guess it’s at least partially open?

The strange odor is allegedly coming from a faulty elevator motor.  Of course, that is no shock.

MIT Kids: Please come hack us!

Who knew all we needed was some MIT kids to help us get around any future fare hikes.

Apparently, some students at MIT made it a class project to hack the Boston subway system (aka the T).  As a matter of fact, the title of the project is: “The Anatomy of a Subway Hack: Breaking Crypto RFIDs & Magstripes of Ticketing Systems.”

Now, the students are computer security majors, so you can see the fit.

They planned to give their 80+ slide presentation at Defcon, a very large security conference.

However, the MTBA sued to have the presentation stopped.  A judge ordered a temporary restraining order keeping the presentation quiet.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) got involved to fight the order.

Anyway, the kids had successfully shown how to generate and reverse engineer CharlieCards and CharlieTickets, the Boston version of Metrocards.

They basically did in a semester what any professional hackers could do, but planed to use it as an educational tool.  Sure, stealing rides is illegal, but the bigger issue is that some students were able to beat a system pretty easily.

Makes me wonder what kind of havoc they could wreak with the Metrocard system.

NYCT Reports Most Subway Cars Well Air Conditioned

According to the MTA, most subway cars are well air conditioned.

Well, ok then.  Thanks for letting me know…I guess?

A hot mess.  (sardinetea via flickr)
A hot mess. (sardinetea via flickr)

Wait, wait.  Did they just guess at that?  Of course not.  They commissioned a full scale study.  Transit officials inspected 2,666 train cars throughout the system.  Of them, 73 cars failed.

It appears that the pass/fail mark was 78 degrees.  Personally, I think that is a little toasty, but manageable.  That’s certainly better than some trains over 88 degrees!

The E train had the worst score, which is not a surprise at all because they are the oldest trains.

So I’m left wondering why a study was needed.  I mean, sure it probably gives you an official looking number when you’re done, but it doesn’t really fix anything.

The MTA should be studying what would improve the a) reporting and b) repairing of overheating cars.

I guess you can just see which cars have no AC because they are usually empty!  However, I doubt if riders report overheated train cars.  Air conditioning, along with other general repair needs should be easily reportable, but they aren’t.  I mean you could call 411 I guess, but who has time for that?

Metrocard Problems Part Deux

Wow. Even Metrocards can be sexy.
Wow. Even Metrocards can be sexy.

Well, the Metrocard drama seems to have continued today, and still no explanations.

Paul J. Fleuranges, the chief spokesman for New York City Transit, the arm of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that runs the subways and buses, declined to speculate on the cause of the breakdown, but said “it was a systemwide outage affecting all or close to every” of the 2,245 machines. He characterized the problem as unprecedented in its magnitude. [NY Times]

Unprecedented.  Wow.  That’s greeeeat to hear.

It’s apparently a breakdown in network communication between the MTA’s system and the company that actually does the credit card processing.

Rumor has it that some people were actually charged for a Metrocard even though the machine said it was unable to process the transaction, and no card was dispensed.  So check your statements people!

Photo edstern