WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – A Metro-North engineer who was caught on video reading the New York Post while operating a train will remain suspended without pay “until the disciplinary process” is complete, according to a statement from Marjorie Anders, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The engineer, identified in published reports as John Cooper, was recorded on video looking down at the newspaper Wednesday at about 8:30 a.m. while operating a Harlem Line train headed to Grand Central. The disciplinary process could include charges, a hearing, a review and a determination, Anders said.
The 50-year-old engineer, whose crew base is located in North White Plains, was suspended without pay when he arrived for work Thursday, June 7, Anders said. He has been a Metro-North employee since 1988 and an engineer since 2001, she said. Cooper “may be subject to federal civil fine for use of electronic device,” Anders said referring to the Federal Railway Administration, which she said was notified immediately.
“Reading anything, texting or using cellphones while operating a train is totally unacceptable,” Anders said. “Metro-North is taking action to ensure this does not happen again. Every member of every train crew was reinstructed last week that this behavior will not be tolerated.”
“Numerous people have asked us if trains run automatically,” Anders said. “They do not.”
“They require a human at the controls,” Anders said. “But the cab signal system in place in Metro-North territory is designed to overcome human failure and bring the train to a stop if an engineer ignores a signal.”
The organization said safety is its No. 1 priority and “reinstructing each and every crew member about distractions in the cab. This is being done in person by supervisors at all crew bases and will continue throughout the day as crews report at all different times.” A message was also left on the computer “that each crew member logs into when he or she reports for duty.”