Cat Facts: The wonderful art left on my train seat

From my experience riding the trains, it seems that Metro-North has quite the diverse assortment of employees. The people they employ can claim heritage from many different countries and backgrounds. There are some old railroaders that can tell stories of working out of Selkirk many years ago, and there are many fresher faces. Folks that have served their country in Afghanistan. A former member of the Secret Service (whom I secretly think is badass). Today, however, I must mention a rather unique individual (and my surrogate big brother) that many years ago had wanted a finance-related job with the railroad, but after much time was offered a position as an assistant conductor. In reality, he totally missed his calling as an artist. Some mornings I would find notes he left on my seat, as I always sit in the same seat on my morning train. I would sit down and burst out laughing when I saw the note, I’m pretty sure that everyone else on that train thinks I’m nuts.


The first note. Not really necessary, since nobody ever wants this seat.


He told me he read on the internet that the Bronx River Parkway was built so Babe Ruth could get to baseball games. I told him I didn’t believe him.


I’m not really sure what animal that is supposed to be…


Best part is the mouse in the corner that says, “Sucker, get a dog.”


I don’t think we’ll be seeing any seeing-eye cats anytime soon.

Unfortunately there will be no more Cat Facts for an indeterminate amount of time, as the artist has changed jobs and is no longer on my train.

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New Operation Lifesaver Poster

You too can win a Darwin award! Presenting the new Operation Lifesaver poster!

The original poster can be found here.

Seriously though, I’ve read a many stories this week alone about people getting killed by trains, many of which were walking on the tracks while listening to music – they never even heard the train coming. Unless your goal is to remove yourself from the gene pool, don’t be stupid.

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Looking back at 2010… a countdown of the most popular

Ah, 2010. You were the first full year that I actually operated this blog. Lots of fun and shenanigans were to be had. I decided to take a look back at what was popular on the site this year, as a wrap-up for 2010…

1. BPGlobal Billboards

The first entry here is not train-related in any way… however it was such a major news story at the time I couldn’t not have some fun with it – though fun is actually a terrible way to describe it, as the Gulf Oil Spill was quite tragic. To me the two standouts in coverage on this was a fake twitter account, BPGlobalPR, and Boston Globe’s The Big Picture. I merged the two into fake billboards, which apparently caught on and made their rounds on the web – and brought around thirty thousand viewers to the site in a single day.

2. Harlem Line Timetables

It is true, I have turned into an eBay whore… collecting just about anything regarding the Harlem Line. Many of the timetables I have can be found on the second most popular part of the site, the Harlem Line Timetables archive. It is desperately needing updating, as I own or have scanned many more timetables than are currently pictured. My goal was always to have a timetable for every year, and for the most part I do have that, from 1930 on up. Look for a major overhaul of this section in 2011!

3. Stupid Warning Signs

Ah, stupid warning signs. One of the most amusing things I’ve made for the site. These popular signs round out the top three most popular things on the site this year. Folks have requested that I turn these into stickers, but if you people start sticking these on trains the MTA PD might actually have a real reason to arrest my ass.

4. The Cutest Train Car in the World

One of the posts I made after returning from Japan featured the Tama Densha railcar of the Wakayama Electric Railway. The railroad is known in offbeat circles around the world due to the fact that they employ a feline Stationmaster (I believe she’s actually been promoted to Vice-President now). Tama the cat was so popular, designer Eiji Mitooka created a train car in her honor. The front of the train has whiskers, the seats inside have cat print. My favorite part of the train? The library full of books for the kids.

5. Centalia, PA – Burning Ghost Town

I’ve always been fascinated with Centralia, ever since I first read about it on the internet many years ago. Since then I’ve visited several times. The story begins in the 1960’s, when a coal seam under the town caught fire. It continues to burn to this day. The land has fissures that belch smoke, and it permanently smells of sulfur. It is a tragic story, as the once bustling small town has been whittled down to less than ten citizens.

The coal under the town that is burning is anthracite – which was popularized in little rhymes about Phoebe Snow in advertisements for the Lackawanna Railroad.

6. The Loneliest Station on the Harlem Line

Although I hadn’t come up with the concept yet, the Harlem Line Panorama project began with Mount Pleasant – which I labeled as the loneliest station on the line. The tiny station in between Hawthorne and Valhalla services the cemeteries in the area, and has very limited service.


The first panorama posted on the site

7. The Harlem Line Panorama Project

If you’re interested in seeing all the panoramas to date, located on a map – this is the place to go. This Google map is the seventh most popular portion of the site, although technically it lies off site and on Google’s servers. However, each placemark contains my favorite panorama from that stop, and a link back to the post on this site.

8. Sadie the Subway Cat

The Transit Museum in Brooklyn has employed a cat or two, mostly in the hopes that they would chase away any subway rats. In this eighth most popular post I recollect my first visit to the Transit Museum and my encounter with Sadie… and my crazy idea to get her a miniature-sized train conductor’s hat. Of course none of that really panned out – and as far as I am aware, Sadie has been quietly retired from the public.

9. The #1 Reason to Ride Metro-North

Back in June I posted these spoof ads for Metro-North and beer. If you are a regular commuter you will notice that in the afternoon, and most especially on Fridays, there are quite a few people drinking beer. The exception to that if you are those people that work at Target in Mount Kisco, you’re drinking it in the morning. But since you can’t drink and drive, and you can certainly drink and ride, Metro-North could always have an amusing new ad campaign.

10. M8 Cars Will Not Debut on the New Haven Line

Ah, April Fools Day… I couldn’t resist making a fake post about the new M8’s. Shattering the dreams of many New Haven Line riders, I posted that the red trains would be repainted blue and running instead on the Harlem Line by the end of the year. I even made up some fake quotes and attributed them to Dan Brucker – which probably doesn’t place me very high on his list of awesome bloggers.

So that is it! The ten most popular things on the blog in 2010. Happy New Year everyone!

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Who’s driving this thing?! What you need to know for Thanksgiving:


Thankfully, Metro-North’s engineers are far from turkeys… they’ll get you where you need to go, without the hassle of traffic.

Hopefully my readers out there are licking their chops in anticipation of a big turkey dinner tomorrow and not calling the Butterball Turkey Hotline to inquire as to the proper method to carve a turkey by chainsaw, or if thawing your turkey with your children in the bathtub is a no-no… If you’re not looking forward to getting stuck in the holiday traffic, there’s always the train…

Metro North’s holiday service begins today at 1PM with a early getaway trains, early service for tomorrow morning for anyone looking to get to the parade, and of course, extra service on Black Friday. All fares will be off-peak. Make sure to have your ticket in advance, no tickets will be sold on board on trains leaving Grand Central on Thanksgiving Day (and no bicycles either!).

Be sure to check out the page on Metro North’s website about Thanksgiving Holiday Service, and enjoy your holiday!

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Metro North Operations Control Center: After Hours

Metro-North released some images of their new Operations Control Center… and looking at those big screens… well, I couldn’t resist. Here’s what goes on in the control center after hours:





In all seriousness, the new control center looks pretty awesome, and it helps get your train to where it has to go on time. Metro North’s facebook page has more info, with a non-photoshopped image.

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BP Oil Spill Ads

Despite the fact that this isn’t in any way related to trains, I figured that I’d post it anyways, considering it is a rather relevant current topic. Many on twitter are talking about BPGlobalPR, a satirical user account tweeting about the oil spill. This evening they tweeted looking for people to post up “billboards” on the same topic. I suck at coming up with catch phrases, so I just picked some of my favorite tweets and turned them into billboards.

Oh, and if tomorrow’s scheduled post comes a little late, you’ll know why. I was totally going to write it tonight, but I got sidetracked…

See more billboards…

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WTFopoly: New York City Subway Edition Monopoly Game

I am so eagerly waiting for my WTF subway shirt. But it hasn’t arrived yet. So in order to console myself, (and in my boredom) I created some more amusing subway WTF-ness. Now not only can Metro-North hate me, but NYC Transit (I still love you, I swear!) can hate me too! And maybe even Parker Brothers, who publish the game.




Instead of Community Chest (what the hell is that anyways?), I opted to replace it with the “Service Change.” For pieces, I figured it might be amusing to throw in a delightful subway rat, and even a pigeon in there. If you bought the “extended version” of the game, there would even be a special “limited edition” Sadie the Subway Cat piece. Gotta market that stuff! And everybody loves cats!

As for the properties in the game, and how I determined where each of them belong, I used the 2009 Subway Ridership Facts & Figures. Blue, green, and yellow properties (the highest value) are the top subway stations, system wide. Red represents Manhattan, Orange is Brooklyn, Magenta is Queens, Light Blue is the Bronx, and the top subway stations for each (not counting any stations previously used). The Purple spots are the bottom two stations in the subway system by use. Instead of the four railroads typically used in Monopoly, there are the other MTA entities: Metro-North, Long Island Rail Road, Long Island Bus, and the other half of NYC Transit, the bus system. There are no “utilities” but instead MTA Bridges, and MTA Tunnels.

Oh, and in order for you to get thrown in jail, you are caught with a copy of the master key.

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