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Transportation Nation

NY MTA Outlines How It Will And Won't Act To Prevent Subway Deaths

Monday, January 28, 2013

(Click image for a clearer view. Courtesy NY MTA)

(New York, NY - WNYC) The NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority is investigating ways to improve safety on the subway weeks after two passengers were pushed to their deaths in separate incidents.

Ruled in: public information campaigns and emergency assistance kiosks on platforms. Ruled out:  slowing down trains. Worth exploring: experimenting with platform doors at one station on the L line, and "intrusion technology" that would sound an alarm when a person was on the tracks.

The Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents a majority of New York transit workers, has been pushing the idea of slowing train operators from 30 mph to 10 mph when entering stations, giving operators more time and space to react to someone down on the tracks. But NY MTA acting executive director Tom Prendergast said computer modeling had shown the move would slow service by 20 to 30 percent while creating "unintended safety impacts" like dangerously overcrowded platforms as riders waited longer to be served by fewer trains.

And while the authority did not reject the idea of sliding glass doors on subway platforms, it is approaching the idea extremely cautiously.

On the one hand, the NY MTA said that it plans to conduct a pilot program in the “next few years” that would add platform doors to an undetermined station on the L line, which links Brooklyn and Manhattan. On the other hand, it laid out a long list of reasons against installing platforms doors throughout the system. Those reasons included curved platforms, the historic landmark status of some of the system's 468 stations, non-standardized train lengths and door placements, and a final price tag of more than $1 billion. The NY MTA also said the doors would require "substantial electrical upgrades" to stations before they could be installed.

As for steps that the authority can take immediately, it's ramping up a public information campaign by delivering safety messages via poster, brochure, website, increased station announcements and a variety of digital screens that passengers encounter as they travel through the system--from electronic billboards at station entrances to Metrocard machines.

A message on the back of some Metrocards reads, "Drop Something? Leave it! NEVER go down onto the tracks, for any reason." Another says, "Don't become a statistic. 141 people were struck by subway trains in 2012, 55 were killed."

The authority also said it's going to accelerate the installation of Help Points at throughout the system to let riders notify the NY MTA directly that there's a dangerous situation. The Help Points are installed at only two stations, but the agency says it will add the machines to 27 stations this year and 26 next year.

The authority is also looking into putting sensors on subway tracks to sound an alarm when someone is down there. Prendergast said the NY MTA had issued a Request for Proposals inviting companies to bid on creating, installing and operating the so-called "intrusion technology."

Fifty-five people died last year after they were pushed, fell or jumped onto the tracks. Over past 12 years, an average of 135 people were hit by subway trains annually, resulting in 44 deaths, 36 of them suicides.

 

Below: a subway platform safety public service video from the MTA.

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Transportation Nation

NY MTA Criticized for Considering Anti-Suicide Platform Barriers

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Paris Metro Platform with Glass Barrier. (Getty Images)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Should New York subway platforms get barriers to protect people from falling onto the tracks or littering on them?

The Daily News reported yesterday that the MTA is seeking proposals from third parties to build sliding-door barriers like those already in place in some stations in London, Paris and Tokyo. Today, the MTA is taking heat for the idea.

Kevin Ortiz of the MTA told the Daily News, "We are very early in the process of looking at the possibility of installing platform doors that would go a long way toward enhancing passenger safety and station appearance."

Today, one State Senator is criticizing the idea in a sharply worded statement and letter to MTA Chairman Jay Walder. Senator Diane Savino points out, a mere ninety passengers out of the system's 1.6 billion annual riders fall onto the tracks. Only .00005% of the subway riding public.

“Much to my surprise the MTA found the notion [of platform barriers] intriguing.  To even contemplate this nonsense is self-evidently a waste of time, effort, energy and yes - money; money the MTA does not have.  The cost to install the barriers would be astronomical. The cost to maintain the doors in good operating condition would be even higher,” Savino said.

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