Driving a subway is so easy an 8-year-old could do it – and one straphanger claims that's who he saw behind the controls of his train.
Jules Cattie, a 41-year-old lawyer who lives on the East Side, was shocked when he saw a young child at the helm, next to the driver, of his Lexington Avenue express train Sunday, according to the Daily News. And the MTA has suspended a subway operator and conductor without pay while they investigate the charges.
"I saw him driving. He couldn't have been more than 8 or 9," Cattie told the News about the kid. " I thought, 'This is really dangerous.' That has to be the craziest thing I've ever seen."
Kids obviously aren't allowed to drive trains; no one's even allowed to be in the cab with the train operator, according to MTA rules. So if what Cattie says he saw wasn't just a figment of his imagination, someone's going to be in trouble.
At first, Cattie just thought the train operator was teaching a newbie how to drive a subway because he heard her giving instructions.
"It's green, speed up," and "Yellow, slow down," he recalled the operator saying.
But when the train stopped at 14th Street and a boy came out of the driver's cab to tell riders they were being held up because of traffic, Cattie was stupefied. He pressed his face up against the glass of the cab to get a better look, and saw what he thought was an MTA operator letting her son have a go at the controls, reports the News.
"The kid was standing there with a female conductor behind him. A little, little kid standing there," Cattie, who took a picture of the two with his cell phone, said.
Given recent news about devastating train accidents in Washington and California, the lawyer found the sight particularly disturbing.
Investigators confirmed on Tuesday that an unauthorized person was in the operator's cab as the subway traveled through Manhattan on Sunday. They are still investigating whether the person was allowed to operate the train.
NYC Transit said the unidentified train operator had 16 years of experience and the conductor was a 10-year veteran.
This wouldn't be the first time a transit employee was disciplined for giving someone else a turn behind the controls. Ten days ago, a Long Island Rail Road engineer was suspended without pay for allowing a passenger to drive the train.