Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by Nester
I think the practices are relevant because the two agencies constantly change and revise their practices to make things "uniform" across the MTA family of agencies. A good example of this is the LIRR's decision to alter the forgotten ticket policy last year when the fares on both RRs were raised. The LIRR eliminated their policy since MNR had no intention of starting one.

As it relates to bar carts, neither the LIRR nor MNR seem to have any objections to selling alcohol from carts located on platforms.

The point I was trying to make is that there is no standing MTA policy of not allowing alcohol to be served on trains (where, in the absence of my statement, a railfan or rider could casually assume that CDOT forced it through ages ago, since the NH branch is the only one left on either RR that has a true "bar car").

Metro-North _can_ serve alcohol on Hudson and Harlem trains, and they should. :)

  by Dieter
Nester brings up a relevant point, despite his details and even my total lack of interest in the Pennsylvania Railroad's Potato Field Extension.

The LIRR and MN are MTA entities, and we all had a heart attack not too many months ago with the spectre of them being merged into one railroad. Didn't that happen, and then we didn't hear anything about it?

Here's the problem. How can you have two different policies on the same issue, within the same State Agency? Until now, we accepted that there was booze flowing on the rails to Connecticut, and New York was a "Dry" State because of two different policies, between MTA in New York and CDOT in the Nutmeg State.

I for one, did NOT know, nor do I know anyone who is aware that Bar Carts are still available in New York State on the LIRR. The Harlem and Hudson Divisions have not seen such a thing since what? 1983?? Kudos to Nester for bringing this news to this forum.

It doesn't take an Attorney's mind to figure out that if it's still a viable moneymaker in one part of New York, it can generate revenue in ANOTHER part of the SAME STATE, especially under the same entity. Given the fact now that MTA presently provides bar service to Long Islanders, in contradiction to their lame reasoning to pull such service from Harlem and Hudson riders, it's a clear case of some kind of potential discrimination!

Looks like we have a case with the MTA to RETURN Bar Service to former New York Central rails! Perhaps this notion should be exercised before anymore RATE HIKES are considered. Isn't it time for other forms of revenue to be explored?

I heard that the end of the Bar Car on the Harlem and Hudson stemmed from a screaming woman who took the MTA to task to pull them. It seems when she got off the train in Poughkeepsie, some Bar Car rider (who knows if he really was, or not) almost ran her over in the parking lot.

I met this boorish woman one night who proudly took personal credit for the demise of the Bar Car on the Central routes, and I challenged her about the situation. She ranted at me that some fellow was tanked, and had "Spent the whole ride in that damned BAR CAR getting sloshed, before he damned near RAN ME OVER!" She was the kind of B-On-Wheels that you would give anything, just to get her out of your face. I guess that's what the MTA did. I feel sorry for her husband. I bet he NEVER gets to enjoy a beer in peace!

She obviously needed a BAR CAR to take the edge off of her on the way home, and I bet that tipsy driver was either trying to get away from her in a hurry, OR he was attempting to perform a public service!

On a related matter, in the former New York Central cars used for Bar Cars, what was the arrangement to gain access to the compartments where people smoked and played cards? I got the clear impression that the conductor was charging and pocketing the money.

I recall clearly in the late 70's sitting down several times with a friend in a four seater in the end of a car, and the conductor came at us like a Hellfire, yelling that we couldn't sit there. We'd get up, and a fat woman and three business men would come, sit and pull down the advertisement from the wall, with their score on the back kept from previous rides. There were three to four groups of four card players on the AM and PM rides I used to frequent on the Harlem.

Gee, I never knew you could RESERVE A SEAT on a Harlem commuter run, with a BRIBE to the conductor! I'd like to see a crew attempt that stunt today! It was obviously a clandestine activity, which made me wonder what the deal was to get into a compartment. I asked the same jerk of a conductor (I could identify him from a photo if I saw one) one time how much it cost to ride in the compartment, and he said it was "IMPOSSIBLE". I asked him where I had to go to fill out a form to apply for space in a compartment and he shook his head and stormed off. It obviously wasn't on a first come/first serve baisis. I sat in one that was empty, and was promptly thrown out!

Anyone have info on that angle of The Bar Car, or the cardplayers in general?? And please, I know all about the black guy from Chappaqua who got pulled off in cuffs for playing cards, so let's not rehash that one. I hear he has a lifetime pass on the railroad, as part of the settlement.


  by benltrain
anybody have more pictures from inside?
and how do these "bar cars" compare to Amtrak cafe cars? is the food quality/variety as good? Are the interiors worth eating in? can you take the food to your seat?

sorry.. a lot of questions

  by Otto Vondrak
What part of "bar car" implies food service? If we were calling them "grill cars" maybe. On Metro-North, bar cars pour beverages, and offer the occasional bag of chips. Many of these cars feature worn interiors, and are not "cafe cars" as you might expect to see on Amtrak.

Dieter, it is possible to buy a beer on board a Metro-North train in New York State. Some evenings the train I board in Harrison features a reverse-to-GCT Bar Car, and I take full advantage all the way into the city (beats paying NYC bar prices).

The last "bar carts" I saw aboard a Harlem Line train were around 1991-ish.

Last edited by Otto Vondrak on Mon Jan 16, 2006 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by brnxvill
And in response to the card games, and forgive me if this is redundant, those games were standing games, with daily players on specific trains on specific cars. In the 70's-80's those Harlem line guys would physically prevent you from sitting in "their area" and yes, I do believe that they paid the conductors a handsome "vig" to keep it theirs.

It was sort of a NY City commuter hyped up, 40 minute version of card game scene out of "The Sting".

  by Dieter
Catching up with this interesting thread after a hiatus -

Otto, I know you can't get a beer on MN. I want to know if it's all MTA, and according to Nester, they're rolling carts on and off of LIRR trains, why are MN patrons who want this kind of service restored, being discriminated against? Is there a stereotype at the MTA that Metro North riders are Stew Balls?

As for the card games, it was blatantly obvious what was going on. There's a law about public gambling, and I recall seeing about as many people playing for "Points" as were playing for thick piles of cash. One group was playing for match sticks, with each match representing one dollar. The guy in Chappaqua was hauled off for playing for points, and he was in one of the groups that truly played for points, not points for cash later. The people playing for cash had it bad.

Food on Bar Cars - It is a very valid question. CDOT was enterprising enough around 1979/1980 to offer "Lunch" on their Bar Cars. It amounted to a limited choice of sandwiches that could be nuked. They were pushing to offer the same fare as aboard an AmCafe, if the service took off. I guess it didn't. BTW, I didn't remember that pizza was offered. It was probably like that shingle stuff they serve in Grade Schools.

Anyone too young to remember a Bar Car on former New York Central rails, or has never been on a present day CDOT Bar Car shouldn't get excited. The only food was unknown brands of chips and Planter's Salted Cocktail Nuts. There was no cover charge, dress code (say for you must wear shoes and some kind of a shirt. Funny there's nothing about having to wear pants.....) no waiter service at your seat. It was packed, and just like on the New Haven today, it was fun and a great place to meet people and trade interesting stories. Those days are gone in New York.

Bar Cars in the Penn Central/Conrail/MTA days in New York were spartan affairs in dirty, poorly ventilated old equipment, where as Otto indicates, you were mighty glad just to be able to get a cold drinkypoo! The two D&H cars were too shortlived, and by comparison, they were grand rolling palaces!


  by Otto Vondrak
Thank goodness the New Haven cuts through a little corner of Westchester with their bar cars, spartan as they may be.

I bet bar cars could be an excellent public-private partnership. A private, unionized company could come in and stock, replenish, and operate the cars, all MN/CDOT would have to do is CLEAN THEM. The damn things are filthy and threadbare. Good think alcohol has sanitizing properties.

It's such a good idea, it would never work.


  by Otto Vondrak
In the realm of infinite impossibilities...


... how much would I have to pay Metro-North to haul this on the rear end of a Harlem or Hudson Line bom train? Would you pay $500 a month to ride? I bet you would. I bet you would ride seven stations past your stop, too!


  by Howiew
Otto...not to get too far off the subject. But sometime back in the mid-70's, Amtrak did run a Observation car on couple of it's Empire Service trains. Nothing like sitting in the back with a cold beer. That did not last long.
Last edited by Howiew on Tue Jan 17, 2006 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by District D RTC
weakcheeks wrote:Yeah, it's profitable for the railroad, but should "quasi-goverment agencies" like Metro North be selling alcohol? Maybe in the future Metro North could sell Lotto tickets too...

I guess it's more important for Metro North to sell booze than run trains after midnight.
Weak Cheeks - ?!!!!!! - It's funny you should mention lotto tickets! A few times when the "powerball craze" hit and many people were hopping 'Haven line trains up to Greenwich to buy lotto tickets MN published a special brochure, I have a copy somehwere, a black and red flyer about "how and where to buy powerball tickets". The listed several stations and a few lotto retaillers near them. I think the aim of the flyer was to diffuse the situation at Greenwich from being a platform full of ragin NY'ers with a gambling habbit...... Drive 'em deeper... Personal suggestion is the Old Greenwich area where there are many lotto retaillers on the main street (stairs at NY/WEST end of train).

Back ON topic here, I don't have the numbers handy, but MN's Bomb cars as well as CDOT's had a few bar cars. 2 6100's and 2 6200's IIRC. MN removed the service from the H&H by about 1991, and soon after put seats down where the bar was. It shoudl be noted that the 2 6100's and one of the 6200's have mid car bar stands with the back-to-back row of seats removed from both sides of the asiles. The other CDOT 6200 has it at the A end of the car. In this position, the seats against the wall remain and the bartender faces the vestibule. Not a good layout if you ever have a line, but it "cost" less seats as it only removed the first 2 3-seaters.

I don't have ANY of the car numbers handy, but I thought the 2 CDOT ones were 6254 and 6257, and the MN ones were 6151 and 6155, but I could be wrong.

As for the liability issues, thats just another kind of nimbyism, for example, there is a bar that recently reopened under new management at one of the Hudson Line stations, its litterally, just accross the parking lot, and the new owner is marketing to commuters, which (wake up nimbys) IS WORSE than them drinkin on the train, because they will now just drive home from the bar, fresh off their coasters.

[...and now that I'm through, I'll be turning in my bar-car-soap-box to our moderator, TerminalProceed........]
  by District D RTC
Dieter wrote:<snip>

I for one, did NOT know, nor do I know anyone who is aware that Bar Carts are still available in New York State on the LIRR. The Harlem and Hudson Divisions have not seen such a thing since what? 1983?? Kudos to Nester for bringing this news to this forum.

Take a look, this is from the LIRR's website:

http://www.lirr.org/lirr/hamptonsreserv ... ervice.htm

On the page it specifically states that there IS A BAR on Hampton's reserve service.


  by benltrain
hamptons reserve service is totally different then regular LIRR or metro-north.

i hear theres a mailing list for the Stamford Locals :wink:

  by Nester
Otto Vondrak wrote:In the realm of infinite impossibilities...


... how much would I have to pay Metro-North to haul this on the rear end of a Harlem or Hudson Line bom train? Would you pay $500 a month to ride? I bet you would. I bet you would ride seven stations past your stop, too!

How would the engineer operate the train in push mode (southbound/inbound) if there is an observation car on the end?

I like the idea of a bar car, but it would either have to be somewhere other than the rear end.

  by benltrain
what incentives would metro-north (or LIRR) have to place any sort of real food service car on their trains?

i can't imagine a train of M2s or shoreliners with one of those on the end...

  by DutchRailnut
Food service is a nightmare, the requirements from board of health to get certified and to keep the cars in tip top condition could never be met in commuter service.