Asymmetric warfare: someone is pulling emergency brakes on NYC subway cars

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I am for one incredibly shocked this isn’t a more frequent if not near constant thing. I mean the levers are just sitting there waiting for anyone to pull them. They’re next to signs that basically say “never use this” but that’s not exactly going to deter someone eyeing mischief?

I anticipate this becoming a fad over the next week or two as this article makes the rounds.


Asymmetric warfare: someone arsehole is pulling emergency brakes on NYC subway cars

FTFY. I’m glad that Jalopnik investigated this but their calling the perp a “supervillain”, even sardonically, rubbed me the wrong way. The MTA is operating in eternal crisis mode as it is, and this jerk is actively making things worse, so call him what he is.


Ugh, those particular trains are already the too-narrow in design and overcrowded. They also happen to be just east of the gentrification wave, so this is just fucking with the poor people trying to get to their fucking jobs and home with as little bullshit as possible.


From the quoted article it seems that the emergency brake is in the cab of the train:

He climbs aboard the rear of the train as it departs a station, unlocks the safety chains, somehow gets into the rear cab, and triggers the emergency brakes. Then, he disappears, most likely through the subway tunnels and out an emergency exit.

Seems to me that the perpetrator might be someone with MTA training, perhaps a disgruntled ex-employee.


So someone is making the NYC commute worse? How can you tell lolololol

Sorry. I do hope they find this person and keep people from fucking with the (old, broken, terrible) trains.


This specific emergency brake is in the back of the train but there are also emergency brakes in literally every train car. If you don’t believe me take a walk around Google Images.

About once a month a train is stopped because a teenager pulls the cord on a dare. I’m saying I’m shocked it’s not more frequent than that.


I’m pretty opposed to the the death penalty, but I suppose exceptions can be made.


The real takeaway should be to note that millions upon millions of people, many of them deeply disgruntled, refrain from doing this sort of thing every day.

That fact is far, far more striking than the fact that someone has done it a bunch of times; it is an obvious bug in our software that we exactly invert the attention-worthiness of the two things.


I would never think of doing such a thing, sober…


If his MO is so predictable and frequent it seems like a plainclothes officer should be able to catch him in the act sooner rather than later.

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Based on what I’ve witnessed, the emergency cord (that passengers could normally access) doesn’t do anything but emit an alarm sound and (presumably) notify the crew.

(However this was in an old Redbird)


Make a list of people wanting to sell security cameras to the MTA.


So, being a troll is asymmetric warfare now?

If this was an act of protest, it’s so poorly done as to be pointless. This wasn’t a co-ordinated shutdown of trains leading to a Trump rally. This wasn’t linked to an act of protest or civil disobedience. This wasn’t done to keep Nazis out of the public sphere, or rise up against the hyper-rich. This is someone being an asshole and making other people’s lives worse for kicks. Let’s save the term asymmetric warfare for people who actually have a point.


Given how…delightful…commuting is this seems like the sort of stunt that runs a real risk of entering “you’ll wish it was the cops who caught you” territory quickly and unpleasantly.

I’m not saying everyone in the car would actively participate in the brutal beatdown; but I wouldn’t count on the bystanders to intervene, or even necessarily refrain from cheering.


Sounds like an inside job. Check disgruntled employees or ex-employees.

I would bet money perpetrator is: male, 15-25, not associated with MTA in any way.




The one thing you’ll notice if you study the bland parts of our daily infrastructure is that humans are amazingly well behaved and decent to each other. They have to be or we would be in a constant state of paralysis. There are switches, levers, and key boxes all over the place that would allow a malicious actor to sow chaos. We are functional as a society, in large part, due to overwhelming apathy.