The MTA is using a robot superhero to hand out masks to Metro-North riders

2020 is weird, man.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver
Editor, Time Out New York

The MTA is deploying a robot-like "superhero" this month to hand out masks at Metro-North hubs, and he's making heads turn.

The character with glowing eyes is called Metro-Man, and he was first spotted handing out masks Wednesday in Grand Central Terminal.

Metro-Man is making appearances this month to help Metro-North Railroad’s Customer Service Department hand out masks to riders. So far, he's been at Grand Central Terminal and will make more appearances on July 22 in Stamford from 7:30 to 9am, and on July 29 in North White Plains from 8 to 9:30am. 

We thought 2020 couldn't get any weirder, but Metro-Man reminds us that it can.

So, why is the MTA using a superhero to hand out masks? 

It's all part of TRACKS—Together Railroads and Communities Keeping Safe—an education program for kids and adults to practice safe behaviors at or around railroad grade crossings and tracks. It's is a joint venture between the safety departments of the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.

But Metro-Man has been around Metro-North since 1983.

According to the Bowery Boys, the original Metro-Man, which was an actual "robot" controlled by remote control, traveled across the region to educate school children about railroad safety and was inspired by Star Wars’ R2-D2. You can see this one at the New York Transit Museum.

The new Metro-Man, who first made an appearance at the Rye Playland opening day in May 2018, is an employee who wears a costume. In the past the MTA has even asked MTA police officers to bring a dog to pose as TRACKS The Dog for certain events in Grand Central Terminal.

So, if you see Metro-Man, don't be alarmed. It's just the MTA. It's just 2020.

Metro-Man robot superhero
Photograph: Courtesy Lorne Lieb / MTA Metro-North Railroad

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