Transit authorities investigate whether two MTA employees let boy drive train

BY Pete Donohue

Wednesday, July 29th 2009, 4:00 AM

Photo of young boy in the driver’s compartment on Lexington Ave. subway train, snapped by a reader.

A subway motorwoman and conductor were put on unpaid leave Tuesday as authorities determine if they let a boy drive a Manhattan express train full of passengers.

NYC Transit investigators have not learned if the boy worked the controls of the No. 4 train on Sunday, but they said he was in the motorwoman’s cab, a serious violation of safety rules.

Sources told the Daily News the boy is related to the conductor, not the motorwoman of the north-bound train.

“They will not be operating a train until the outcome of this investigation, and they will not be paid,” NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges said.

“Based on the information obtained during the initial stages of the investigation, it has been determined there was in fact an unauthorized individual in the cab.”

The Daily News reported Tuesday that lawyer Jules Cattie said he saw an 8- or 9-year-old boy in the cab and believed the motorwoman was teaching him how to run the train.

She was standing behind the lad as he stood at the controls, Cattie said.

A co-worker described the female train operator as “cautious and attentive.”

“I don’t think the kid was driving the train,” the co-worker said. “I think at most she was just showing him [how to drive]. She’s one of the most responsible people I know.”

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector Barry Kluger also has launched a probe.

“Obviously, this allegation raises serious safety concerns for the ridership,” Kluger said.

The motorman, or train operator, is posted in the cab at the front of the train. The conductor, who opens and closes doors, works out of a cab in the middle of the train.

Even if the boy didn’t drive, the motorwoman could be fired for allowing him in the cab, authorities said.

Subway riders interviewed Tuesday agreed any visitors – especially children – should be barred from the cab.

They were sympathetic to the motorwoman if her only mistake was treating the boy to a front-seat view and rudimentary lesson on navigating the system.

Wistful riders and train buffs were left a little charmed by the boy who may have lived the wish of many New Yorkers.

Charles Burleigh, 53, an interior designer in Manhattan, called the report a “serious issue.” Still, Burleigh confessed he always wanted to drive a train.

“But I never had a chance,” he said.

With Rich Schapiro and Joe Jackson

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