Coffee the Train Man arrested

A sign of the times: Coffee the Train Man helps commuters catch the subway
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Coffee the Train Man, a sentinel for Ditmas Park straphangers taking the Cortelyou Road Q train, was ripped from his post last week after cops arrested him outside the station where he notifies hustling commuters when the next train is departing for spare change, cigarettes and steaming cups of joe.

Police nabbed the 62-year-old Coffee, whose given name is Charles Jones, at 7 am after a woman flagged down two transit cops and demanded he be taken away.

An NYPD spokesman said Jones was arrested for violating an order of protection the woman had filed against him, but would not elaborate further. It was unclear if Coffee had returned to his Cortelyou Road post by Monday morning.

Train commuters were stunned by Coffee’s arrest — and were dismayed over how his absence would affect their daily commute.

“That guy never bothered anybody!” said one Ditmas Park resident. “He was a very nice person and he was always precise with the train schedules.”

Coffee made his bread and butter as the human version of an MTA countdown clock, telling locals when the Q was arriving so they could run into the station to catch the train.

“Let’s go down there, let’s go!” Coffee would yell from the sidewalk above the outdoor station, when he saw the lights of an approaching train on the tracks below. “Manhattan Q train coming!”

Commuters would pick up their pace — some would even break into a full sprint — when they hear Coffee hollering.

Unless, of course, Coffee let them know they still had a couple of minutes to relax — just enough time to get him a cup of coffee.

The MTA prohibits panhandling inside stations and on trains, but Coffee, a recovering drug user who lived at the Park Slope YMCA, said he never begged and mainly stays on the sidewalk.

But he was well compensated for making sure everyone made the train: Coffee boasted that he drank 14 cups of the beverage he was named after each day.

Local merchants say they’re already felt his loss at the cash register.

“I don’t know what happened to him,” said Sergio, who works at the store where straphangers would buy coffee for their two-legged countdown clock. “But, we sold less coffee today.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.