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MTA: 'A' Train Operator Drove Uptown On Downtown Tracks For Several Stops

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Talk about wrong-way driving!

A subway operator on the A line recently drove an uptown train on the downtown tracks for several stops before coming to a halt, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Monday.

A dispatcher tried to contact the crew of the rogue train by radio after realizing the train had pulled out of the Canal Street hub onto the wrong track Aug. 11, but the crew did not hear the message, 1010 WINS' Al Jones reported.

MTA: 'A' Train Operator Drove Train Down Wrong Tracks For Several Stops

The operator didn't come to a stop until after the train passed the Spring Street station and saw the headlights of a downtown train at West 4th Street.

The MTA said it was a highly unusual incident and that no one was in danger because the other train on the tracks was being held.

The problem reportedly arose when the train was rerouted due to signal problems.

"Usually if a train has to back up, what it does is it goes to a crossover, where it can cross over to the track going the other direction and then reverse itself," Robert "Buzz" Paaswell, distinguished professor of civil engineering at City College of New York, told CBS 2's Diane Macedo. "It usually doesn't just back up on the same track. It could cause a real, real hazard."

MTA: 'A' Train Operator Drove Train Down Wrong Tracks For Several Stops

The MTA said the operator and conductor on the train have been taken out of service pending an investigation.

As WCBS 880's Jim Smith reported, most riders hearing of the wrong-way train had the same reaction.

"Of course it scares me," a man said. "I put my life in my hands in these trains."

Subway riders say the incident raises some serious concerns.

"Somebody could have seriously got hurt," Rodney Harrison, of Brooklyn, told Macedo.

"I think it's pretty shocking that a train would go the wrong way up the tracks," said Indira Cesarine, of Manhattan. "I don't know how something like that would happen."

"I don't know what I'd do because you can't get off, so you'd have to sit there until you get to a stop that you can get off at," one woman told Jones.

"I can't believe that would happen to an employee of the MTA. That's absurd," said one man.

"I didn't think that could happen," another straphanger said. "I don't know what I'd do because you can't get off. ... What are you supposed to do? Get mad?"

Kenneth from Brooklyn wondered about the worst-case scenario.

"You never know. You might be sitting down, and another train might come and boom, smash," he said.

Paaswell said overall the subways are still extremely safe, but he hopes the incident can help bring about some needed change.

"It really reinforces the fact that modern communications and modern signaling is probably the most critical thing, to me, that the MTA has to do," he said.

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