MTA Mulls Installing Sliding Doors on Subway Platforms

Monday, March 26, 2012

MTA president Tom Prendergast said Monday that the authority is considering installing doors on platforms in the wake of a number of subway deaths — including a fatality on the L train tracks in Brooklyn this weekend.

The platform would be sectioned off by sliding glass doors that would open when a train was in the station, similar to platforms in the AirTrain system and some European subway lines, the MTA chief said during committee meetings in Midtown.

"We can do it," Prendergast said, citing subway lines in the London and Paris system that are 100 years old but have been retrofitted with platform doors.

He said potential safety gains would have the biggest impact at crowded stations like Grand Central Terminal. It could also improve the subway's operating efficiency.

"The entire functioning of the Lexington Avenue line depends on smooth boarding at Grand Central Terminal," he said. "Cutting down or eliminating platform accidents would help us greatly."

Prendergast said there are no concrete plans for the platform doors but that the authority is looking into the issue.

The MTA chief did not say how much the upgrade would cost or how it would be funded, only that he assumes it would be "costly."

Subway trains hit 147 riders in 2011, up from 128 the year before.


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Comments [8]

Mella S from Williamsburg

Please note - the most recent death was the result of a horrifying accident that happened on the L train Bedford stop at prime time for the area, Friday at 10pm.

Our subway stations are simply too crowded for a 5ft hazard zone. As much as I love and appreciate the authenticity and nostalgia of our system, an well-designed and enclosed platform space with climate control may be overdue.

Mar. 26 2012 09:04 PM

The article doesn't explain how those barriers are designed, but the openings will have to line up perfectly with the train doors if they're going to allow efficient boarding.

Does the current system guarantee that trains will always stop in exactly the same position every time? The BART system in the San Francisco Bay Area has marked spaces on platforms which identify where the train doors will be located at stops, but when a train arrives it's often just a few inches off. The problem in that case is minor, except for the obsessive-compulsive passenger who finds it terribly irritating (that would be me).

Most underground trains are run by computers. Human operators monitor the situation and troubleshoot, but the computer determines where the train stops on the platform. A computer may handle that more precisely than a person, but many subway delays and mishaps are caused by computer failure. Right now I'm visualizing the scene at Grand Central at 8 a.m. when the train doors don't quite meet the platform doors, and don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Mar. 26 2012 06:10 PM
Gogo from brooklyn

the MTA is hemorrhaging money, now they want to put this very costly plan into place. how much MORE will they hike our fares and cut services to fund this project? because a few "daring" and perhaps even foolish souls plummeted to their untimely deaths leaning over to see what trains is arriving in the station, I don't see why our fares should have to fun this project.
Is it a good idea? yes
do they have the money? no
do i want to see the price of a fare go up? "heck" no

Mar. 26 2012 05:14 PM
Jose Conde from Park Slope

Why not paint a danger zone on the subway platform of 5 feet. No one allowed inside the danger zone til a bell rings indicating subway doors will open. Anyone that crosses ahead of time gets a summons. Enforce the law and educate the public. This is an effective and cheap way of drastically improving the safety on the subway instead of spending tons of taxpayer dollars on costly do overs!

Mar. 26 2012 04:10 PM

DOIT! is a great idea, if for nothing else than the possibility of climate control materializing.

Mar. 26 2012 03:50 PM

It's not just Europe. This is common in Asia and Latin America too. Even places like Sao Paulo have sliding doors.

Mar. 26 2012 03:21 PM
Patricia from Midtown east

It works well in Europe and would be a great benefit here for stations that get heavy crowds and also those with narrow platforms. Since I was once pushed between the platform and the train, I have a hard time walking along some of those dangerous paths.

Mar. 26 2012 02:11 PM
Frank from UES

It's a good idea. It might also help reduce the amount of garbage that ends up on the tracks too if they are effectively closed off.

Mar. 26 2012 01:20 PM

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