Retired motorman sheds insight on transit
by Sara Krevoy
Feb 21, 2020 | 3337 views | 0 0 comments | 314 314 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bronx native Torin Reid began working for the MTA as a conductor when he was 29 years old, but his lifelong fascination with trains has never wavered.

In his retirement, Reid, now a Jamaica resident, put all of his unfiltered thoughts about the city’s public transit - collected from more than three decades underground - to paper.

“The New York City Subways’ Motorman’s Rant” is the second book Reid has self-published, and his first comprehensive work about public transit.

“I’ve been writing magazine articles about trains and railroading almost as long as I've worked for transit,” Reid says, “but I wrote this book because I think the public needs to hear everything that’s in it. I took a chance and explained a little bit more than what the average person might want to hear about the subways, but I felt I had to do that in order to fully explain my positions.”

The book dissects the roles that management, employees and passengers play in the orchestration of the city’s public transit network, while exploring the impact interactions between those parties have on the day-to-day operations.

Reid hones in on topics such as the agency’s capital management, the subway’s infamous signal system, and the behavior of riders. He uses what he describes as “one-third life experience and two-thirds research” to give readers a fresh perspective on their daily commute.

For Reid, the decision to self-publish comes from his experiences with his previous book. He knew that a big publisher would seek to edit much of what he wrote, and rather than compromise his message, Reid took on the challenging task of being responsible for all aspects of the work’s success.

Still, Reid is hopeful a wide audience of those who take and are interested in the city’s transit system will help spread the insight in his book.

“It seems like when you write a book it’s kind of like throwing a dart at a dart board,” he says “Of course everyone looks to hit the bullseye, but more often than not it lands somewhere else.”

From the time he rode the 2 train with his family as a kid looking out the front window as it chugged along from 225th Street to Manhattan, Reid understood the excitement and potential of public transit and its vehicles.

He is disappointed with the current state of the MTA, and he trusts that “The New York City Subways’ Motorman’s Rant” will provide valuable information on why the city’s public transit is in such disarray and how it might be improved.

“There’s a lot of material,” he explains. “I counsel someone to take their time with this book. It’s a lot to take in, and sometimes you just might need a subway map to help you along.”
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