I'm a domestic terrorist, and my son is one too. A few nights ago we were running an errand (checking in on my parents' house, as they're still stuck at their snowbird place in Florida) and we decided to do some railfanning on the way home. We parked the truck at the Valhalla train station and did some videos of the crossing, which has new equipment.
(Don't laugh ... the railfan community is huge and the revenue from his channel pays a major portion of his college tuition.)
A minute or two after we left, the local police pulled us over and asked what we were doing there. It seems that Karen was on the train. She concluded that we were Antifa or BLM thugs who were *obviously* trying to derail the train or something.
After a few minutes of conversation with the cops (who were awesome, by the way) it was clear to them that we were engaging in a harmless, wholesome activity, and they were annoyed with Karen, not with us. We chatted for a little while about the IGlet's hobby and they were equally as impressed as everyone else always is.
It's a shame, really ... we went on that errand to get out of the house and blow off some steam, and because someone harshed our mellow we came home equally as agitated.
But getting to see IG actually use the word "Karen"... priceless.
Be careful, if they get your name you will be put on a "known racist" list.
I live just north of you and rode MNR to work for years. I'm also a railfan of sorts - I'm sure it's because I idolized my dad, who worked for the transit authority for the better part of 40 years.
It's well-established that you're allowed to photograph trains as long as you're not trespassing, with the notable exception of commercial photography (i.e. using a tripod) without written permission, throughout the MTA system (including the subway, LIRR, and so on). I'm not surprised that the cops were nice because they understand that 99% of the railfans out there are harmless folks who love buses and trains. There's a letter floating around the interwebs where the MTA acknowledges this. If you don't have a copy (and want one), let me know and I will see if I can find it.
(It kind of stuck. He's 20 years old but we still have the bear as the channel mascot because people love his antics.)
And I'm pretty sure he carries a copy of that letter around with him. Is it the one where the MTA specifically says they do allow photography and video of their railways, excluding, as you pointed out, big commercial-style setups with tripods, and that letter can be presented to any officials who question it?
We do know that the Port Authority does *not* allow photography. This is because anyone who brings a camera onto the PATH train is obviously a terrorist who intends to blow up the World Trade Center again. This hasn't stopped us, of course; we're just a bit more subtle about it.