Hi Reddt,

Today I'm doing an AMA with a dear friend of mine who is a tram driver. Many don't know what it's like to be one and as much as I know, there haven't been any tram related AMAs. Feel free to ask me whatever pops into your mind. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to answer any question linked directly to my company, but others will definitely be answered.

My proof: http://imgur.com/CH9nuJP http://imgur.com/3lv7T2R http://imgur.com/A1mgfYK

Comments: 583 • Responses: 84  • Date: 

KDSsid322 karma

Why aren't you answering questions?

bahenbihen69114 karma

I am extremely sorry, I had to quickly go to the hospital. I'll answer every single one of them now.

jolindbe17 karma

I hope you are doing fine!

bahenbihen6923 karma

I'm good now, thanks

covor39 karma

It's early in the morning in Europe, 6-7 AM, so maybe just wait a bit.

bahenbihen6919 karma

Yup

SydneyRoo35 karma

He got fired for using his cell phone on the job.

bahenbihen6944 karma

That's happened a couple of times, however if you're waiting for your schedule at the last stop you're free to use your phone.

a_fish_out_of_water31 karma

According to his comment history, he was in the hospital within the last 20h

bahenbihen6924 karma

True

Mr_Luciferiuss12 karma

You alright?

bahenbihen6956 karma

They had to remove an unidentified object from my right eye, I'm ok now.

Mr_Luciferiuss12 karma

Great, glad to hear!

bahenbihen6912 karma

Cheers

SomeRandomMax20 karma

I was going to make a joke about how he only said to ask him anything, he never said he would actually answer. Then I read the OP closer.

Since he did specifically say that all other questions "will definitely be answered", there is only one conclusion: OP IS DED.

RIP in peace, OP.

bahenbihen6944 karma

I could be dead, RIP me

FartGreatly160 karma

How long does it take for the job to go from "Weeee! Fun! Driving a tram! Look at me!" to soul crushing monotony?

bahenbihen69143 karma

Well training lasts 4 to 6 months and for you to go around the entire town while working another 3 months... I'd say about half a year to about 9 months. At first, you are feeling a bit lost since you dont know anybody, but later when you learn to recognize friendly faces from other drivers, it's fun again for a month or two until they get boring to you.

MagicMax9630 karma

"Training"

bahenbihen6924 karma

Fine, professionalizing

Kamigawa75 karma

Probably the length of a return trip

bahenbihen6969 karma

Matters, on long lines I do 3-4 circles while on the short ones 12 or more. Those are quite boring.

Adventchur136 karma

Do you intentionally shut your doors on people waiting and leave like the tram drivers here do?

bahenbihen69126 karma

I do not, but many I know are assholes.

amplified_mess23 karma

So is that what it comes down to? Not "I'm already 30 seconds behind schedule and must make this green light" but "the next 12 is in nine minutes, idiot!"

bahenbihen6945 karma

It is still the "I gotta make this green light"

SoftestPoroNA91 karma

In Canada, we always say "thank you" when we get off a bus or tram. When I do this abroad (or even in 'murica), people give me strange looks, but as a Canadian, the need to say thank you is burned into my DNA. Do you find it odd when you hear a random passenger yell "THAAAANK YOUUUUU" (in an enthusiastic Canadian inflection of course) from the back of the car, or does it even register?

bahenbihen69104 karma

Very odd yes. It's very nice to say "goodbye" when getting off or "thank you" when we wait for someone before closing the doors, but saying thank you for me just doing my job is a bit weird. But do whatever you want.

anthonyfg40 karma

I used to drive buses, I think of it kind of like I put my life in your hands and you didn't fuck up, thanks.

bahenbihen6928 karma

Could be, but I've never heard anybody say "thank you" to me for just driving.

WhiteFrankBlack85 karma

Am I foolish to ride trams without a ticket? I've never seen any ticket inspectors actually doing their job. In Budapest, Vienna, and Prague, I've ridden all over the cities without ever buying a ticket.

I hate to take advantage of a very useful transport system, but it's just too easy.

kitchen_clinton38 karma

You're supposed to have integrity and pay your way. If only the scofflaws used it, it would go bankrupt.

bahenbihen6924 karma

It wouldn't go bankrupt. Most of the money isnt made that way. Also, the drivers (who in many cities sell tickets) have to buy them themselves at newsstands. They buy a pack of a few hundred and sell them for the exact same price, so don't be mad at us for not having a spare change for your 500€. And newsstands buy such tickets from the company as well.

kuikuilla34 karma

What. Doesn't sound like a "typical european city" to me.

bahenbihen6910 karma

It's just how it works. Probably to prevent us from giving away tickets for free.

blackmanrgh10 karma

[removed]

bahenbihen696 karma

Maybe it isn't too normal for western Europe? I don't know. That's how it work here in the east.

bahenbihen6920 karma

Also, since there is nobody controlling their work (no pun intended), they often just go to coffee shops mid-shift lol

bahenbihen6919 karma

There is absolutely no need to buy a ticket. We have about 20ish ticket controllers operating every day, but it's not that hard to escape from them. They will ask for your ID and request you to exit the tram and wait, but they are not allowed to use any force against you if you decide to leave. The system is terrible.

hackel16 karma

That is terrible. Here in Minneapolis, they are cops, and they have guns (US, of course...). The complete other extreme, which is equally awful.

bahenbihen6913 karma

The company issued a complain and a request to the city for every controller to have a cop beside them, it was dismissed within 2 days.

i_yolo_if_you_yolo17 karma

In Prague I've had my tickets checked, but only on the metro. I lived in Plzen, which is about hour west of Prague, I've had it checked on the tram but only once in the 6 months I was living there.

g0ldenbr0wn53 karma

In Prague everyone's had their tickets Czeched.

bahenbihen6910 karma

Hahahahahaha

bahenbihen6916 karma

There are certain lines in different parts of the day which are regularly full of ticket controllers. In some there hasn't been one for a decade.

TomNguyen4 karma

It´s safe to drive in Plzeň ticket-free after 6 p.m and weekend. Plus it really help since inspector just are straight away give away. They are wearing nearly same style of clothes + small messenger bag/fanny pack

P.S: If you are interested, we can hit for some beers, fellow redditor

bahenbihen693 karma

Well, ours wear whatever clothes they want, so it's not too easy to spot them. Hell yeah I'd love a beer right now!!!

DonPanchode7 karma

Here in barcelona they check all the time. I take the tram once a day to get home from school and they check like 3 times a week.

bahenbihen695 karma

It's probably just that one line and since youre in a rush hour maybe that's when they have more controllers working.

Tec_1 karma

US transit worker here, The police can ticket/fine you if you are caught but most of the time they will just make you get off at the next platform and buy a ticket and allow you to get back on. Our ridership is subsidized by the government so we get paid regardless. In fact we have many "free ride" events like concerts, holidays, and sporting eventswhere ridership is monitored but no fares are collected, We still get paid for it. The last official paperwork I had seen that have done the math to calculate how much a fair would need to be in order for ridership to purely sustain operations had tickets at something like $32 a fair. But that was quite old at the time.

bahenbihen691 karma

Some of ours will also just make you buy a ticket, but it all comes down to the controller's personality.

mytwocents2222222222-2 karma

I was in Melbourne and saw tram inspectors waiting on the train till somebody got on with out a ticket. It was then that they unzipped their jackets and show their lanyards saying declaring they were inspectors. Bunch of wankers.

bahenbihen6910 karma

What do you expect? "HEY WE ARE TICKET CONTROLLERS, IF YOU DONT HAVE A TICKET, THEN GET OUT BEFORE WE GET TO YOU" They are undercover for obvious reasons.

mjgood9138 karma

Any advice for me as an American who may visit Europe some day on things I should expect that us tourists seem to mess up a lot?

bahenbihen6977 karma

  1. Please ask for where to purchase tickets before entering the tram because if you are already in and start panicking, everything turns into a clusterfuck.

  2. When asking me for a ticket, dont give me 20$, I'm not a currency exchange office.

  3. Feel free to ask anybody for directions, everybody's friendly towards tourists here.

MegSmeg42 karma

People have been saying to pretend you're Canadian while abroad for as long as I can remember, but no one really cares if you're an American or not. And if they do, fuck it. You don't need to worry about some random person's opinion.

Source: I'm an American, and I lived in Europe. No one gave a shit about my nationality.

As for actual advice, learn how to say hello, please, thank you and other common greetings in the languages of the places you're visiting. Be sure to get a handle on the currency conversion rates before you go. And maybe look into getting a debit card that has no foreign transaction and ATM fees.

dum_dums14 karma

That's ridiculous, I can't imagine people will make a big deal out of it. We have plenty of dumb politicians in Europe

bahenbihen6913 karma

Plenty, plenty If our politicians could light up like light bulbs, Europe would be Las Vegas

bahenbihen6910 karma

Everything you said is correct, it's very nice to hear a foreigner try to communicate in your mothertounge.

QuinnKastel11 karma

If you want to visit germany, bring cash. A lot of places don't accept credit cards and places that do accept them often have a rule where you have to buy stuff worth at least 5 to 10 euros to pay with credit card.

I am a 26 years old german who has lived in 3 large cities so far and I have NEVER seen someone paying with a credit card. I can't speak for other countries but if you have questions about germany, feel free to ask.

Edit: It seems like other people from germany have had different experiences than I did as they are able to pay with credit cards almost everywhere. Just be aware that this is not true for all of germany. While places like Berlin or Cologne should accept credit cards all over the place, smaller cities might not have this luxury.

Edit2: Guys, I just said to bring some cash. I didn't say leave your credit card at home. Yes, you can pay at a lot of places with credit card, but none of you can deny that there are also a lot of places where you can't.

bahenbihen694 karma

No use of it for where I live as well. Only large shopping centers accept various credit card options.

trainmaster61134 karma

In Europe, trams operate in mixed traffic or pedestrian plazas/spaces far more than they do here in the United States. Ostensibly (among other concerns), it's dangerous to operate what is effectively a train in these mixed areas and the US generally puts an emphasis on separating the tram track from other right of ways. In your experience, how dangerous do you think it is to operate in these mixed traffic areas?

bahenbihen6978 karma

It's also hard to make "separated tracks" in the middle of a 500 year old city.

trainmaster6117 karma

But how do you feel about operating in them?

bahenbihen6931 karma

It's a thousand times harder than when the tracks are separated from normal traffic. And it's far worse in the center in no car zones since people unintentionally jump in front of trams non stop. That's that one thing that makes this job hard: you have to constantly pay attention not to run anybody over since the brakes activate about 3 seconds after you activate them by pressing the pedal.

raggatekgandalf3 karma

Isn't a three second delay for the brakes an insanely long time factoring in your own reaction time?

bahenbihen697 karma

Yes, it is an insanely long amount of time. But that's only for the wheel brake (like the once in cars). The air brake (has two air chambers), emergency brake (deploys sand in an emergency) and track brake (has magnets under the tram which drop down causing friction) all have faster response times.

bahenbihen691 karma

People die almost every day unfortunately. It's hard to stop a few dozen tons of metal moving at 50km/h. That's just why this job is very challenging.

ufloot28 karma

How long do you have to go to tram-driving instruction school? (or whatever it's called) I see them in Berlin all the time. For some weird reason it always makes me happy to see a tram driver in the making, with their empty trams and their instructors by their side.

bahenbihen6922 karma

Yes, it makes me super happy as well. It lasts 4 to 6 moths; The last month is when you get onto the actual road.

DedLed28 karma

how many hot eastern european babes have you trammed back to your place?

bahenbihen6927 karma

From work? Zero

Ninokun1 karma

he is a female from Croatia, probalby not lesbian

bahenbihen694 karma

Why is everyone saying I'm a female?!? I am a dude.

Mantisbog26 karma

Why is everything gelato in Europe?

bahenbihen6970 karma

I dont really know... I drive trams lol

MountainAshes21 karma

What's you most interesting encounter so far?

bahenbihen6936 karma

There are a bunch of them everyday: from weird ass people to very nice looking cars. A youtuber called Royal Jordanian does "Daily observations" series and that's something what each and every of my days looks like, it is not as boring as it seems.

Knuda5 karma

He is a master of getting around traffic.

bahenbihen697 karma

He really is.

bureX19 karma

So, which is it? Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb?

Also, compared to driving a car, what's it like? Any easier (since there's no steering wheel)?

bahenbihen6932 karma

I wont mention my company since I want to answer all of the comments truthfully and I mention some stuff we're not allowed to do while driving, so please keep my privacy.

It is much harder to drive a tram, since throttle and break responses are terrible. I work for more than 7 hours a day and I run into a lot of critical situations. I always have to foresee what will happen in front of me since it takes 3 seconds from when I press the brake to the time that the brakes actually engage. And braking a few dozen ton vehicle from the 1970ies is far harder than it seems.

cfcnotbummer15 karma

What is your favorite color please?

bahenbihen6953 karma

Used to be blue, but now that my company's main color is blue I'd say red.

alexx306415 karma

What is it like to answer unanswered questions?

bahenbihen6935 karma

Like answering a question for the first time!

Bislavmago13 karma

Do trams have a reverse gear?

bahenbihen6924 karma

That's a very good question! Yes and no There is no such thing as a "reverse gear" in trams. Tram power networks have DC power running through them from one transformer to another which are placed on top of power lines. These separate tram power supply into "regions". There is a switch under the tram which changes the direction of DC power in that one region which then enables you to move backwards. This is the easiest way to explain it.

Gaijin_Monster13 karma

Strangest tram driving experience?

bahenbihen6928 karma

There are too many of them to pick one, but probably one of the strangest experiences was when one time a naked guy decided to run in front of my tram and just started dancing.

Gaijin_Monster8 karma

Lol. Did he make eye contact?

bahenbihen6922 karma

Not really, he was just jumping around with his head going ape shit like his neck was jelly.

timoxen12 karma

What´s your average day like?

bahenbihen6929 karma

I work morning shifts, midday shifts, night shifts and evening shifts, so not all of my days are the same, but here you go: - get up - morning routine - get to work by car or motorcycle - do the paperwork and get the cabin ready - start up and checklist procedures - go from the garage to the nearest turning point of my route - get breakfast (I eat while driving) - turn my music on - drive for 7-7,5 hours - occasionally a friend comes in and we talk for some time - go get coffee with friends from work (lasts about 3 hours - go to lunch with my non-work-related friends - go out if I have a day off the day after or go home and browse reddit before falling asleep

utspg19809 karma

3 hour coffee? Damn!

bahenbihen6935 karma

I guess you've never been to eastern Europe, lol. That's not too long.

amplified_mess12 karma

How much of a difference is there between a full and empty tram in terms of controlling the machine?

Is it more stressful operating a tram than a bus? I mean, you can swerve out of the way in a bus...

Are there any trams that you'd like to have a chance to drive? Any particular favorite models? (Or least favorite?)

bahenbihen6917 karma

  1. A big difference. Having 100 or more passengers adds about 8 tones which is about 25% of the overall weight. It's alright though, since it reminds you to drive more carefully, because more people are standing inside of the tram.

  2. I've driven a bus once, and that was a coach in Indonesia, so cant really answer that one.

  3. I'd like to test the Tatra KT8D5.

LxSwiss12 karma

Whats the male/female ratio? Here in switzerland we are starting to have as much female drivers as male

bahenbihen6917 karma

Here as well! About 60M:40F. Tourists always find it to be weird.

rwillgo12 karma

Do trams ever collide?

bahenbihen6919 karma

Yes, there's been an accident like that last year here. It's hard to do it, though. Super dumb

Kratzyyy12 karma

I live in Edinburgh. We have a tram. The other day a cyclist lost their life because their bike wheel got caught in the tram tracks, throwing them off their bike into the path of an oncoming mini bus.

Has anything like that happened there? Are cyclists allowed to cycle in the same lane as a tram?

bahenbihen6915 karma

Happened to my friend who was a motorcyclist. He died from impact, unfortunately.

Tokmak200011 karma

What kind of qualifications do you need and how hard is it to get the job? Is it easy like - you just apply and bang you're in after training if you're lucky, or do you need special permits beforehand, experience in something else, etc.?

bahenbihen6915 karma

Zero qualifications needed and it's very hard to get the job since most of the time the company employs city workers. In a case we have an open employing process, about 1000-2000 people apply every time. You have to be physically and psychologically fit and it always comes in handy to have a college degree.

Sk0ff7 karma

Also, it helps when you got family working there, right?

bahenbihen693 karma

Definitely

Teledildonicdreams10 karma

How fast can a tram go?

bahenbihen6916 karma

Up to 70km/h, restricted to 60, though. That's for the new ones.

shayhtfc9 karma

How does it work at a fork in the rails? Do you have to steer? Do you press a button that switches the points before you get there? I've never really got that bit, because surely there can't be a central control room doing all the points?

bahenbihen6922 karma

Inside a tram you have a switch saying "1" and "0" (or "turn" "no turn"). If you want to continue going in the direction the rail is pointing at a junction then you pull the switch to "no turn". http://imgur.com/ryTbmuG

There is a little lever on top of the power supply line about 3 meters behind the place where the tracks separate (http://imgur.com/YYn3Vuf) When you pull the switch to "no turn", all electric equipment (inner lights, beams, acu, heating etc.) starts getting power from the APU (auxiliary power unit) and when the pantograph (http://imgur.com/SmG7wSr) touches the switch, it sends a signal containing 0 amps which doesn't turn the rails.

In case you want them to move, you pull the switch to "turn" which does the same, but keeps one battery running which sends a 50A signal through a box located on the sidewalk through the ground to a small machine located under the rails (http://imgur.com/sK4OLrA). In case you dont pull the switch, you will fry the machine box.

Im_awesome_AMA8 karma

Here in Germany, it's a rather widespread meme that all Bus and Tram drivers are called "Manni".

Do you think thats mean or good Fun?

bahenbihen697 karma

It's good fun, no need to get mad over things like that

simkhovich6 karma

What would you say is the biggest obstacle in automating your job?

bahenbihen6911 karma

Learning how to: 1. Use the railroad switch 2. How to use the brake (the response time is approximately 3 seconds) 3. Do everything smoothly

Amonette20123 karma

Do you believe a machine could ever be good enough to do this, or would it just kill everyone and cause disaster?

bahenbihen698 karma

It wouldn't have much faster reaction times then the ones we have. A machine cant see a ten year old girl 50 meters in front of me running into the street.

The_KazaakplethKilik7 karma

I'd argue that it can actually see her, the hard part would be recognizing it as a reason to slow down.

bahenbihen699 karma

Well yes, that is kinda what I meant to say

DutchCheeseCompany5 karma

Is the tram influenced by weather conditions like rain, leaves or snow, and makes that that you have to drive different?

bahenbihen698 karma

Yes, more than a car. You have to be extremely careful in snow.

squishynurse5 karma

What's your favorite kind of cheese 🧀?

bahenbihen6916 karma

Manchego <3

francehopper5 karma

Least favourite run to have to do?

bahenbihen697 karma

What do you mean by that? It's the worst when you're stuck in traffic and have to go to the toilet.

Amonette20125 karma

I am guessing he means 'least favorite route' or 'shift' or 'period of time during a day's work'. Like asking a bartender which shift they hate working most.

bahenbihen6910 karma

Ohhhh Definitely evening shift. Everybody is very moody and the daylight is slowly disappearing, it's for some reason very depressing.

theshelts4 karma

Do you answer questions in your job or ignore them?

bahenbihen696 karma

Like on Reddit or in real life? I'm not allowed to talk to passengers while driving, but I always do unless I have to seriously concentrate on the situation in front of me. One moment of not paying attention can get someone killed and you dont want that.

CommieColin4 karma

What's it like to be?

bahenbihen6911 karma

It's not too bad like many people think. If you like vehicles and road experiences like I do and are friendly towards other drivers and daily commuters and tourists, you can actually have a lot of fun at work. Not many people can say that in their job they can listen to music, talk to people and eat while working. The cons are that it can get boring in traffic jams, and the shifts are terribly organized, but thankfully you are not the only one who works like that, so it's not unusual for 3 or 4 of you to go to ones house at 3-4 AM and have lunch.

Hagenaar4 karma

[deleted]

vandancouver8 karma

As someone who works for light rail in thestates, generally the "pilot seat" where the controls are, are behind locked doors.

bahenbihen695 karma

Yup

bahenbihen695 karma

Just as the other lovely person said, no one is allowed to enter the cabin at any time.

paco1004 karma

What city?

bahenbihen699 karma

I'll keep that to myself for privacy reasons and to answer each question truthfully without the fear of losing my job.

Tiefman3 karma

Technologically do you think trams are up to par? What sort of equipment is on board? any on board computers? what powers the things? medical, safety?

bahenbihen695 karma

Quality wise, the entire cockpit is built to last - that's what all trams here have in common. We have trams from 60s 70s, 80s and today, so they definitely differ when it comes to technology. We have AC in most, mirror heaters, cab board heater, calorifiers and the new ones have 2 ECUs in the case of one failing. The onboard computer is the one you can see in the first photo and all of the trams have them. They are used for PA, operating the displays and as GPS devices, so people know when the tram is coming. We also have modern tachographs.

Other than one IFAK (individual first aid kit) there isn't really anything else regarding safety or medical.

MrCake7772 karma

Your proof should be you wearing the uniform of your job and holding a paper saying /r/IAmA or smth like that not just normal pilot seat pics...

bahenbihen694 karma

I'll provide more proof tomorrow if you wish. Since I'm answering truthfully with some things I'm not allowed to do in the cabin, I have to keep my privacy, because I dont want to get fired for doing an AMA

archal2 karma

Do people ever try to, you know, Yankee-doodle, try to pull the plug? By jumping in front of your tram while it's moving?

bahenbihen693 karma

Fortunately no

LilyFaye911 karma

How do you deal with boredom and loneliness on the job?

bahenbihen691 karma

Loneliness isn't a problem since I talk to someone for 30% of the time. The rest of the time I try to become perfect at my job and/or listen to music. If you're unfriendly and moody, you won't be able to deal with the boredom.

hackel1 karma

How do you feel about three number of idiot U.S. Americans that run into trams / light rail cars, because they somehow don't have a fucking clue about public transportation? Cars aren't even allowed to drive with these, they are completely separate, aside from controlled intersections.

Second question, do you have plans for the eventual automation of your job?

bahenbihen691 karma

I wouldn't generalize with pointing out "Americans", but if you're talking about tourists who fly into the street without even looking, I always have that weird wish to open the doors, get out, swear right into their face and continue driving.

Tram drivers wont be automized for at least another 100 years + add the time it takes the technology to make it to my country lol