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Survey Finds Many Subway 'Panic Bars' are Misused

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

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.

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Comments [2]

Steven Faust, AICP

Those exit gates were installed after I pointed out the the highwheel gates do not meet the NFPA fire protection code at a MTA Public Hearing some years ago. As noted by the previous writer, highwheel gates provide access for ordinary baby strollers, luggage, bicycles, parcels as well as wheelchairs, that are allowed on the trains, and most items would fit through the regular low turnstiles.

Perhaps the article's writer should include the exact text of the Transit Authority's regulations so we can be informed of what the gates are legally available for? It seems unusual and inappropriate that there is a blanket prohibition against all uses of the gates.

Sep. 11 2010 11:43 PM
Arthur Vandelay from New York

This "study" is absurd. The MTA took what were once called "service exits", installed alarms and started calling them "emergency exits" and criminalizing their use when they started laying off booth attendants. Before, many of them were regularly used both as overflow for when hundreds of people exit a train, and for those who are carrying children, groceries, luggage or anything else that won't fit comfortably through regular turnstiles.

The suggestion that floor-to-ceiling turnstiles could possibly let a trainful of people evacuate a subway station is utterly absurd. People would literally be crushed to death in the panic.

No, the only problem here is the alarms. They should be silenced and the law should be amended to allow lawful egress through service gates.

Sep. 09 2010 12:19 PM

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