Subway FAQ: OPTO and ATO

From nycsubway.org

OPTO is a term used to describe trains handled by one person operation. On these trains, there are no conductors. The train operator has the responsibilty of operating the train and opening/closing the doors. Started in late 1996, OPTO has been in use on most shuttles, as well as one of the regular routes. The Division of Car Equipment made modifications to the car equipment as well as Rapid Transit Operations (Operations Planning Department) to the car assignments accordingly. Cars equipped with full width cabs may be used for OPTO. The following routes have OPTO service:

  1. BMT/IND Franklin Avenue Shuttle - R-68 (all times)
  2. IND Brooklyn Queens Crosstown - R-68 (weekends)
  3. IND Rockaway Park Shuttle - R-46 (all times)
  4. IRT Dyre Avenue Shuttle - R-62A (nights)
  5. IRT 42nd Street Shuttle - R-62A (all times; train operator at each end)

There is a possibility that other routes could become OPTO in the future.

ATO or automated train operation, is a term used to describe transit being run by computers. There is speculation that ATO may be put into effect on the city's transit lines sometime in the next century. The BMT Canarsie Line is the first subway line to be converted, with the IRT Flushing Line to follow. By no means is this a new technology. NYC Transit ran an experimental automated train project in the early 1960s. It was successful in daily use on the Grand Central Shuttle. A severe fire at Grand Central would halt the entire project. The project would not be pursued again. Regardless, ATO would make its way to other transit systems. Washington DC and San Francisco are two such examples of ATO.

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