25 September, 2008


Bobby the Conductor: When Riders Attack
Posted by TJ

The always entertaining/illuminating Bobby Derailed blog has a compelling yarn about Conductor Bobby throwing himself in the middle of a bloody, drunk fray on the New Haven Line. One has to wonder how this will fly when Jacksonville returns to the rails. Most of the train crews that I know in town are suburban cowboys, each larger then life with enough bravado to make Arnold Schwarzenegger pale. So use your imagination, and place this event somewhere outside of Yulee, Macclenny, or Green Cove Springs on the commuter train, or outside of Gateway Mall on the Light Rail. FACT? Those vacationers would be safer here then there.

Writes Bobby:
It seems that the white guy, who was very intoxicated, got on the train and started making rude remarks to two girls who were seated across from him. These girls were from Spain, and were vacationing in the New York area. They had never seen this guy before, and they were understandably upset and frightened. The girls had a male friend with them, a fellow Spaniard who was in his 20’s. He politely asked the white guy to stop saying such horrible things to his friends. The white guy took exception to this, and allegedly punched the Spanish guy in the face. The Spanish man was meek and frightened and didn’t retaliate.

A large black man, who was standing nearby, came to the defense of the Spanish trio, and it was about this time that I came upon the scene.

“You want to punch somebody?” asked the black man. “Try punching me.

Things got ugly, says Bobby, then calmed down, then got ugly again.

We pulled into Fordham Station, and the MTA police were waiting outside on the platform. I had to let them aboard, meaning that I had to put my arms down and key the door open. This, in effect, set the white guy free from the cage that I’d formed. He took advantage of his new found freedom and immediately ran back to the rear of the car, charging the black guy. The black guy made short work of him, swinging with three successive blows to his face. Blood squirt from his nose and mouth and splattered everywhere. He really folded like a cheap suit, and crumpled to the ground.

Against all logic and better judgment, Bobby again throws himself into the fray.

When I pulled away from the white guy, my shirt and arms were splattered with his blood (slightly visible in photo).

Seeing the blood on my shirt and arms, an MTA police sergeant recommended that I go to the hospital for an “exposure test.”

A quick check-up over at North Central Bronx hospital showed Bobby to be in fine fettle.
A savvy Long Island Railroad conductor might’ve parlayed that into full disability!


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The arguments rage to this date, "Should have never been built," "waste of taxpayer money," "Doesn't go anywhere," "Nobody rides it..." etc. Bottom line is we have it, and it is finally showing signs of life. Simple extensions to the Stadium, San Marco, and the area of Blue Cross in North Riverside would turn this little train around. Addition of Park and Ride garages and multimodal transit terminals at the end points would bring on the crowds. The video must have been shot on a Sunday Morning, as downtown is certainly as packed with life as any other major City on weekdays. Jacksonville is a city of Bikes, joggers, walkers, buses and cars, one almost wonders how the photographer managed to find this quiet moment.

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