Survey Finds Many Subway 'Panic Bars' are Misused

Subway riders set off alarms on emergency exits at subway stations so frequently that they are ignored or even disabled.

That's the conclusion of a survey by the New York City Transit Riders Council, a publicly-funded watchdog group. Members observed 19 different exit points around the city and found that on average, 60 people use the exit gates illegally each hour.

During one rush hour, the council counted 329 people going through the exit gates at 79th Street on the Number 1 line.

Council President Andrew Albert says the gates allow people to enter without paying a fare, but the bigger problem is that the alarms serve no purpose and add to noise pollution. He suggests installing more floor-to-ceiling turnstiles.

A spokesman for New York City Transit says the gates allow passengers to exit quickly in the case of an emergency, and that their misuse can result in arrest and criminal prosecution.