Hello my friend , here's a question I can actually help with instead of making jokes ...
I'm a subway motorman (train operator) for a little over 2 years. I got hired in June of 07 off the second open competitive exam that they gave. You took the third.
For starters , as for the hiring process. You took the open competitive exam. You claim you got 14/80 , which I'm being very honest , is bad either way. You either got 14 right out of 80 which means you failed , or got 14 wrong out of 80 which I believe would have given you a passing score of around 83% but little chance of ever realistically getting hired. When I took it , there was 70 questions on it , and I got 69 right and my list number was in the high 300's and I still had to wait over 3 years to get called. The MTA must promote in house first (conductors , etc.) who took the exam as a promotional exam , and once they've exhausted the promotional list , then can activate the open competitive. The MTA just went through a 2 year hiring blitz for motormen , there has been classes of up to 80 motormen going through every couple of months non stop since 2007. They had a shortage of motormen and wanted to get to the level they needed. Altogether we only have around I think 6-7 thousand T/O's period. We're not like the NYPD with over 30 thousand officers where they hire classes of several hundred to 2000. I'm only on 2+ years and I already have seniority on 15% or so of all train operators. Basically , they're not going to be needing to hire many off the test you took. I hope you read your score slip wrong , and did better. You're going to need to get a 95% to have any realistic chance of getting hired , even though 70% is the passing grade.
Now , as for qualifications if they do call you : What you need to go to 'school car' , which is our training program , is a HS diploma or GED plus 5 years of full time work experience (they will substitute 1 year of college for 1 year of work , up to 4 years , but you still need at least one year of work experience somewhere if you had a 4 year degree because they don't want this to be anybody's first ever job). You could have worked in McDonald's or been the President , the MTA doesn't care because nothing you did before you got hired could in any way give you any preparation or experience in operating a subway train. Can't take college courses for it , intern on a subway , or the like. You will start like everyone else not knowing anything , and they will teach you. Even for someone that was a railroad engineer , it is not the same as operating a subway train , even T/O's from other cities don't know the job because we're one of the last places left where the vast majority of trains are operated by hand and not computers. Only on the L line , and soon the 7 is there automated train operation , and even then it's not 24 hours. The cool looking R-160 trains that you see that make the automated anouncements are hand operated although you can't see the motorman's hands from the platform doing it.
Once you pass the test , and they get to your list number , you'll be called down for processing. You will take a drug test , and they will disqualify you without hesitation if anything pops up. Next , you will fill out a 20 page booklet on your background , as well as undergo an FBI fingerprint and background inverstigation. They do not play around with this , the MTA for all it's faults is very careful about who they hire to operate their trains , for obvious reasons. You will be disqualified if : you are a convicted felon , have a dishonorable military discharge , have any orders of protection currently issued against you (and possibly even if you have any from the past not currently active) , if you have a record of discharge from previous employment due to discipline problems (and they will know ... any job you ever had on the books has reported your pay , even if it was 1 hour , to the social security administation, and the investigators get the social security printout to verify your work history so the job you got canned from for telling your boss to go f--k off on your second day , and you got a check for 10 hours mailed to you , two weeks later , yeah , they know about it and that you didn't tell them) ... and if you are caught lying about anything on the pre-employment book , you will be gone. Sometimes they don't complete the investigations until candidates are almost finished with training , and if they catch you in a lie (and they love to do this) they will have you pulled out of training and fired immediately , and the union cannot do squat to help you with that.
You will take a full , comprehensive medical exam. While I don't know everything that you can be disqualified for , the four big things that I know jammed people up was ... #1 - Diabetes / #2 - poor pre-employment EKG / #3 - poor vision/hearing / #4 - High Blood Pressure (they don't want you having a heart attack and dying while operating the train. That would tie up service , which is a big no-no
) ........ On some medical issues you could be disqualified outright , on others they will place a hold on you and you'll have to come back after you get a private doctor to say your ok to work the job (liability issues). If you are overweight the doctor will take you in a private room to perform various exercises to confirm you are fit enough to climb on and off the front of the train , which you will do a lot on the job.
If you pass the drug screening / background / and medical , they will assign you to a class ,(which will be broken up into smaller groups. In my case we were broken into groups of 10-11 people that you train with for the entire time) and then you will start what is known as 'school car' , the training program to learn to operate a subway train. In my case I passed the drug test / background investigation / and medical all on the first shot with no holds. Time wise it took me 3 1/2 years to get to the start of that process and two-three months to complete it and start training. I took the test in October 2003 , got my results in January '04 ... then waited , waited , and waited some more. I got called for the drig test at the end of March '07 and began 'school car' the first week of June '07.
Your first week of school car will basically be an orientation to the MTA. You'll go through five days of things they need you to know but have no bearing on subway train operation directly. Terrorism training , watching videos , learning about the American's with disabilities act , being fitted for your uniform , getting your books and tools for the course , going over job benefits and filling out forms , etc. Your first day will probably be at the HQ on Livingston street , then from then on you will report for schooling at the MTA training center , a converted former public school building near Bay 25th street on the D line in Bensonhurst , Brooklyn. You will also pick a division to work in , A (the number lines (IRT) - or the B division (letter lines (IND/BMT) ... almost everyone picks the division with the most terminals close to their home for obvious reasons. If you live in Bay Ridge , picking the A division makes no sense , for obvious reasons if you look at the map. If you pick A division , you will go through 3 1/2 months of training. If you pick B , it's 5 1/2 months of training. The reasons for the disparity is in the B division (my division) you have to learn to operate about 10 types of trains , and in the A , only two , plus the B division has more lines and yards you have to post.
The next two weeks or so will be classroom instruction. You'll get track qualified , learn about the rail syatem , the signalling system , go to fire school , learn how to evacuate a train , and learn a lot of book stuff. In about the third or fourth week , depending on your instructors , you'll finally get on a train in the yard , learn the basics to get it ready for service , how to do your 45 minute inspections of it , and once you know how to charge the air brake system , you and your classmates will take turns going up and down the track at less than 10mph to get a feel for the throttle and braking.
You'll spend the next several weeks learning all about the trains , and eventually going down the road in a full length train that is not in service practicing stopping the train on the mark at the stations. This is where you will earn your living , knowing how to properly stop the train. Taking propulsion is a piece of cake , stopping the train properly is what the job is all about. We're actually not 'train drivers' , we're 'train stoppers'. (you'll also get the 'finger' quite a bit from pissed off passengers on the platform that don't know why they are seeing 12 guys in orange MTA vests standing around on a train that is not picking them up ... must be typical lazy MTA workers , right? Wrong , it's motormen in training ... so if anyone reading this ever gave me the finger , well ,
<--- (sticking my tongue out at you)
To complete 'school car' you will have to pass a mid-term and final exam (multiple choice questions). You must get an 80% to pass each test , and you only get one shot at it. You must pass a signals exam midway through the course , with a score of 100%. If you get one signal question wrong , you fail , and you're gone. Again , you only get one shot at it. You also must pass 4 practical exams which are hands on exams where a Superintendent will supervise you doing the following (on 4 separate days spread throughout the course) ... #1 - cutting and adding train cars apart/together ... #2 - How to inspect a train for passenger (road) service ... #3 - How to overcome a break pipe rupture or train tripped into emergency ... and #4 - The road practical - an inspection of you making several station stops properly. --- You get two chances for each practical , at the Superintendent's discretion. If you fail the first time but came close he or she can let you re-test in the afternoon , once. If you fail the re-test , you're gone. They don't play in school car. Some trainees come in thinking that the job must be a piece of cake. Our training program is thorough and no joke , and the trainers do not play games. And if they think you're a clown or not up to the task , they can recommend you be booted from the program. And you probably will get that boot.
You must also post (work) every line in your division twice , each time under supervision of a qualified train operator for that day , as well as post each yard twice where the instructors will grill you and make sure you know what you're doing. Yard jobs are the toughest part of the job. being on the 'road' is much easier.
If you survive to the end (ha ha , 'survive' , it's not that bad) ... you'll be on probation for the first year (which includes time in school car). While on probation you can be terminated by the MTA for any reason they see fit with the exception of anything already protected by federal , state and local laws (the same things which apply to all jobs in the country). Although for most minor mistakes , you'll be sent for retraining. (My record is spotless , never had an incident
... I know , I'm bragging , but I deserve to , so I will).
Once you graduate , for about the first 2 - 2 1/2 years you'll be at the mercy of crew assignement. Basically you'll work a different line , start at a different terminal , and have a different report time every day. This is known as the dreaded extra extra list. You'll get your job assignments via an automated phone line or through the job sheets they print every day , 48 hours in advance. You can be assigned to work a line in passenger service , work in a yard , be assigned to switching duty at a terminal (basically you put trains in and out of service as the dispatcher needs). You can also be assigned to the extra board which you will either love or hate. Basically that means you report for work and wait for a job to open up somewhere in the system. If you're on the board 8 hours and don't pick up a job , you go home , and get paid for those 8 hours (which is very rare) ... but what happens 90+% of the time is you will sit anywhere up until the 8 hours and if a job opens up (someone calls out sick , gets sent for a random drug test , has an incident , ex.) , you'll be sent to do it. But you'll be paid the whole time. So let's say you report to Stillwell Ave at 13:00 and sit until a D job opens up in Bedford Park at 16:47. You'll get paid 3:47 board time , let's say the job lasts from 16:47 to 01:38 , you'll make 8:51 for the job , plus deadhead time of about an hour twenty minutes back to Stillwell. So you'll make 8 hours plus over 5 hours OT for the day , but you'll start at Stillwell , ride as a passenger up to Bedford Park , make two trips on the D up and down (maybe do a put-in or layup too) , then finish wherever the job finishes. You'll make about $30/hr straight time , $45/hr for OT , which is good money , but you'll basically do nothing but work , sleep , and work for about the first 3 years on the job. After that it will get progressively easier and better each year until you retire.
I hope I answered all your questions. If you have any more questions , re-read what I wrote and you'll find what you missed ... (just kidding , you can send me a 'direct message' , where I'll forward you the details of how to wire money to my bank account for answers to any further questions you may have.)
Best of luck , hope you get hired and we see you down here one day.