Home New York City Transit Few solutions for improved subway platform safety

Few solutions for improved subway platform safety

by Benjamin Kabak

The subway accident rate has remained low as ridership has increased over the past ten years. (Source: New York City Transit)

I am growing weary of discussing platform edge doors. As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, I believe the increased public concern over subway platform safety is a ruse to deflect attention away from the real issues facing our transit system. Politicians can use subway platform system to claim they care about transit issues and are looking out for riders when, in reality, the incident rate was one per 11.3 million subway riders and nearly a quarter of those were suicide attempts. But here we are. Again.

Because of two high-profile homicides that were both a far cry from normal, New York City Transit has been forced to respond to increased calls for, well, anything on subway platform safety, and during yesterday’s MTA Board Committee hearings, officials unveiled a 46-page presentation awkwardly entitled “Customer Contact With Train Incident Report.” In it, the MTA lays bear just how little of a problem this is and presents a few solutions. From public awareness campaigns to the challenges facing any sort of platform edge doors to hope for a next-generation track intrusion detection system, the MTA is clearly paying lip service to all solutions, but its options going forward are limited.

So first things first: How do people get hit by trains? According to Transit, in 2012, 54 customers were struck while in the tracks and another 51 were hit by a train while in the station. The agency says that 33 were suicides or attempted suicides while three customers fell in between cars. Short of locking car doors, the MTA can’t do much more stop people from moving in between cars, and the only solution that will put an end to subway suicides are platform edge doors. The remaining 105 collisions last year fall in that space between avoidable and unavoidable based on the circumstances.

The first step in the MTA’s campaign against collisions involves the public awareness effort. Already, the PA/CIS systems are broadcasting safety messages, and those will soon spread to the backs of MetroCards, the MetroCard Vending Machine screens, the digital ads aboveground at certain train stations and every social media outlet imaginable. At this least, this effort could scare passengers away from standing too close to the platform, but as New York is New York, straphangers won’t budge all that much.

In the realm of technology, the MTA can look to limit access to the tracks, develop a warning system or both. The first part is tricky. Even as some cities retrofit their transit system with platform edge doors, circumstances underground are working against the MTA. First, it’s costly, and the MTA has no money. Second, the rolling stock isn’t standardized and won’t be for at least another decade. Third, station infrastructure — curved, narrow platforms with both little room for required electrical systems and weak platform edges — is lacking for such an effort. Fourth, operations could suffer from extended dwell time and flagging requirements. Even though the MTA received 12 responses to its request for information, yesterday’s presentation contains the seeds of the agency’s argument that platform edge doors are basically a non-starter.

So what can happen? First, the MTA says it will expand its Help Point system which would allow customers to warn train dispatchers of a person in the tracks. This is useful as long as the train isn’t barreling down on a station or potential victim. Help Point, which I’ve mentioned obtusely as a waste of money, could be at 100 stations by the end of next year and system-wide by the end of the decade.

Second, the MTA could look at intrusion detection. Here, the idea is that an advanced imaging system can tell when a human-sized something is in the tracks and sound an alarm that essentially shuts down the system. In theory, it sounds promising, but it’s an early-stage idea. The MTA is going to initiate a Concept of Operations, but it could be years before a solution is ready for any sort of practical pilot testing or implementation.

That leaves the MTA and its customers then with few solutions to something that isn’t a major problem. The agency is going to move forward with some sort of safety pilot program, but doing so is as much about placating the rabbling masses than it is about finding a long-term solution. And while I don’t mean to minimize tragic deaths caused by train collisions, at a certain point, the cost and time spent on the non-problem will detract from Transit’s real issues that impact us all.

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UnnDunn January 29, 2013 - 12:15 am

What will it take to get countdown timers on IND/BMT lines? Countdown timers mean fewer people putting themselves at risk by leaning over the platform edge to see if the next train is coming.

R. Graham January 29, 2013 - 2:14 am

It’s being worked on now as we speak. A replication of the system implemented on the IRT that allows the data to be translated into a countdown timer for each train at station info screens. However the system won’t be nearly as extensive as what is already on display in the IRT. Some features will be left out and accuracy might slip somewhat in comparison. As of now it’s ways off but it is on the way.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 7:55 am

The MTA have tried a number of systems to get countdown clocks on the IND and BMT. The L train uses Siemens Trainguard MT CBTC; the Broadway line uses photo identification to take pictures of trains as they approach the station; and the Queens Blvd. and 8 Ave lines use sensors in the tracks to detect if a train is coming.

It’s already being done, but the MTA doesn’t have an overlay of the entire B Division; the majority of the IND and BMT is not modernised. Once Automatic Train Protection gets installed in the B division, the entire division will get countdown clocks, which I don’t see happening before 2018.

D.R. Graham January 29, 2013 - 11:05 am

It’s not ATS. It’s something similar but ATS can give train location as well as the signal said train is approaching and what aspect that signal is on. The B division version won’t do that. Too costly for such a vast division.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 11:08 am

The MTA would have to at least install ATS on the Queens Blvd line, because it is getting new rolling stock and ATO.

D.R. Graham January 29, 2013 - 11:47 am

ATS has no rolling stock type requirement. It’s built on the schedule, exchanging of information with the dispatchers when changes are made so trains can be identified and the sections of track they occupy as is now in the IRT. ATS is automatic supervision not operation. The ATO standard for transit is CBTC and right now the 7 line is receiving it signalling change over. Next on the schedule after the 7 line is supposed to be the J. It might be quite some time before Queens Blvd even gets the look. Maybe something like the next 15 to 20 years.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 12:20 pm

The J is not at capacity at any portion of the line. It’s the E, F, M, and R that are over capacity in many track portions. In fact, the MTA needs assessment has trains on all services equipped with CBTC, except for those on the G, J, S, and Z trains.

The MTA plans on awarding the contract for Queens Blvd CBTC this year.

Alex C January 29, 2013 - 12:17 am

Politicians who drive to work have already told us the solution: just have trains slow down and stop before entering stations, then slowly proceed. That will totally not affect people’s commutes; say the politicians who wouldn’t know a subway car from an exercise bike.

Stephen Smith January 29, 2013 - 2:08 am

Short of locking car doors, the MTA can’t do much more stop people from moving in between cars…

Articulated trains!

D.R. Graham January 29, 2013 - 2:19 am

Nonstarter for NYCT. It increases maintenance therefore it increases costs. Locking the doors is a nonstarter as well as that became an issue some time back. Some may notice that the handles on the newer IRT trains were removed on one of the double door panels in each car. Perps were tying the doors closed in order to keep people from escaping a planned robbery.

Yes I know the doors are locked on the 75 foot equipment but that is also for customer safety as those cars make extreme slicing action on turns.

Alon Levy January 29, 2013 - 2:59 am

It increases capacity because people can stand in the gangways, and this reduces cost to provide the same service level at rush hour.

D.R. Graham January 29, 2013 - 3:19 am

The reasons why costs aren’t decreased is because more moving parts equal more parts for car equipment to maintain. More parts to be replaced. This is exactly why over the past decade they moved from allowing the fleet to be in singles and married pairs to 4 and 5 car sets. Now when something goes wrong within that set those 4 or 5 cars come off the road and if one car has to be broken away it can still be easily done in the shop. Articulated trains can’t be treated the same way with the same speed. Also with the amount of miles put on these trains regularly these parts will come up for replacement often as moving parts have a shorter lifespan than the train itself.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 7:58 am

Also, articulated trains would make fewer train configurations. Single cars could be set up in as many cars as the MTA desires. Cars attached in sets of 4 or 5 have to be taken apart and fixed all at once, if one train fails.

Since 1989, however, the MTA hasn’t made any single cars, they’re always in sets of 3, 4, 5, or 6.

John-2 January 29, 2013 - 9:10 am

A three-section articulated unit for the B division, with each unit 50 feet long, would basically be the same as two A/B 75-foot cars today. Taking a unit out of service wouldn’t be a major change from the current situation, and four units would make a 600-foot train, but the downside is you’d have another type of door placement to deal with that would make platform doors more difficult to install (which, given the MTA’s feelings about the added cost, could be a feature of the artics, not a bug).

Someone January 29, 2013 - 9:27 am

Another downside to this would be that it would cost more to maintain the 150-foot units, because the MTA would need customised parts for the units.

sharon January 29, 2013 - 12:49 pm

but on the plus side it increases the number of people on each train

reduces ADA issues with elevator locations being blocked by stairways as a customer can move through the car to by pass obstacles on the platform.

It is safer as a single police officer can now be protecting or providing a presence for multiple cars.

I’ve rode on articulated trains in europe an they are far superior

Someone January 29, 2013 - 7:42 pm

I rode them in Tokyo and London, and they actually allow more capacity on lines that are overcrowded during rush hours.

As for ADA issues, you can have a regular consist of 4 or 5 60′ cars linked together by one gangway.

Alon Levy January 29, 2013 - 7:51 pm

Why would it be customized? A lot of cities have walk-through trains. Tokyo, whose rail operators have spent the last 25 years designing and running trains built to be as low-maintenance as possible, has walk-through trains, and this includes some rolling stock orders that are bigger than the R160. Some other cities do even more, and not only let you walk between cars but also make the vestibules as wide as the car interior, for maximum throughput.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 8:14 pm

For NYC Subway, the parts would need to be customised to meet this type of rolling stock, since articulated cars are currently not in service in the NYC Subway. Also, if an articulated consist breaks down, the parts to fix it in-house would take longer to order and replace than if, say, a R160 breaks down.

Bolwerk January 30, 2013 - 10:45 am

Oh Jesus. So, compromise them for the better passenger throughput. It’s not something that needs to be done in a single stroke. It’s something that can be done through normal attrition.

Kai B January 29, 2013 - 11:35 am

Better distribution of passengers throughout the train as well.

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 8:46 am

This sounds highly dubious. Couldn’t the perp just physically restrain the intended victim if s/he tries to leave the car?

Someone January 29, 2013 - 8:52 am

The majority of perps aren’t that strong.

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 9:57 am

All the more reason not to lock themselves in a subway car with someone they can’t physically restrain.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 10:00 am

Then why are you mentioning it?

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 10:07 am

Um, I didn’t bring it up. I said it was dubious.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 10:51 am

Okay why are you doubting it, then?

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 12:24 pm

Besides the two overwhelmingly good reasons I mentioned? Because it’s absurdly anecdotal and seems tailor-made to prey on archaic sensibilities about urban crime, deliberately conjuring isolation, impersonality, random naked criminal aggression, a “something is out there” paranoia, defenselessness/lack of control for the victim, and a public setting of indifference to a (white?) victim. All that’s missing is the mention of some “other” subgroup, like a 300 lbs black man – though also note this purportedly happens on the IRT, which may subtly imply a visit to The Bronx or Crown Heights.

Sorry, but it sounds far-fetched. And I do ride the IRT, and still move pretty freely between cars when people annoy me.

D.R. Graham January 29, 2013 - 1:45 pm

All I can tell you is look at those handles when you do move between cars. They were removed for the reason of theft via isolation. If I arm myself with a knife you will try to run but if I isolate you there is no where to run. This has nothing to do with race. It’s happened and that’s all there needs to be said about it.

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 2:00 pm

I have never seen handles removed. I’ve seen the MTA locking them, however. Many times. The MTA does not want people moving between cars.

And I can assure you, if I were to run, it would be out the door at a station. Also, most people who ever pulled a knife on me didn’t keep their knives very long.

It’s happened and that’s all there needs to be said about it.

I can believe that it maybe happened, but what I don’t buy is that it’s a common or particularly useful strategy for a would-be thief. Meanwhile, it sounds suspiciously like many other urban legends that may or may not have happened.

D.R. Graham January 30, 2013 - 12:22 am

On any R142 if you recall there used to be two handles on each door on both sides of the door exterior and interior. The handle on the off side on both sides have been removed to keep the doors from being tied together.

sharon January 29, 2013 - 12:51 pm

not strong but crazy.

The average person does not want to risk themselves

And certain people like myself can find myself out of a job if I get into a fight of any kind. Not going to resist. I will flee or give whatever they want

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 1:09 pm

Be that as it may, the locked door doesn’t change the equation very much. Running from a “crazy” person between two subway cars honestly sounds like the dumbest thing you can do if there is a likelihood that person will pursue you.

SEAN January 29, 2013 - 1:23 pm

I love this blog, but this topic is drifting into pure fantasy & psychobabble & I want to draw atention to that.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 3:42 pm

But if the subway cars have no handles, wouldn’t it be harder for a crime suspect to run away, thereby confining them to one subway car and increasing their probability of being arrested.

Alon Levy January 29, 2013 - 3:00 am

Detection is a really awkward solution. Trains would still have to slow down, mucking up service. Why not just spend the ~1 billion dollars on platform screen/edge doors and join the developed world?

D.R. Graham January 29, 2013 - 3:33 am

Because someone being on the track is a justified reason to slow trains down and is currently done on a daily basis. There are daily reports of unauthorized persons descending to the road bed and the typical reasons is to pick up a dropped cell phone. When reported and at least one a day is reported even though this may happen more than once a day, all trains in the area are ordered to slow to 10 MPH until an all clear order is given.

Getting to the issue of platform doors. The fleet is not standard as is. So one set of doors on the newer trains may line up but the doors on the order trains are aligned differently and wouldn’t line up. Not to mention platform doors work best with ATO (Automatic Train Operation) since it can operate the train and make it stop in the sweet spot every single time so the doors can line up perfectly. Asking a fleet of Train Operators (all who operate differently) to make the perfect stop every time is a lot to ask with cars that are maintained differently, operate differently and each one being like a snow flake in terms of brakes. In order to make that happen stops would need to be made under slow speed order rules to allow for max precision. (Your service has already slowed) Now the conductors have to make sure that the doors are lined up prior to opening and now operate an additional set of doors prior to the train moving. (Your service has slowed even more) Now the riding public can hold the train up by holding the platform doors only. (You have officially reduced your TPH capacity and on time performance)

Now I haven’t even gone over why platform doors could never be installed on a platform like Union Square 4/5/6 southbound. I don’t think I even need to get into that. It speaks for itself.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 7:48 am

Not to mention platform doors work best with ATO (Automatic Train Operation) since it can operate the train and make it stop in the sweet spot every single time so the doors can line up perfectly. Asking a fleet of Train Operators (all who operate differently) to make the perfect stop every time is a lot to ask with cars that are maintained differently, operate differently and each one being like a snow flake in terms of brakes.

In many Japanese railroads with platform edge doors (yes, I said that right), the conductor (yes, I said that right, too) has to stop within 2.5 inches of the platform door, or risk getting reprimanded. I imagine that it must take a lot of practise and training to do that, and that current motormen in the NYC subway have a lot more wiggle room than Japanese conductors do (many of the platforms are longer than the actual train length; notable examples are the platforms on the C, G and M trains).

D.R. Graham January 29, 2013 - 11:09 am

All very true. Japan wishes to have the on time performance of NYCT but they focus more on safe and precision operation than NYCT.

Alon Levy January 29, 2013 - 7:53 pm

Japan wishes to have the on time performance of NYCT

Japan also wishes to have the GDP per capita of Mali.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 8:08 pm

Japan also wishes to have the GDP per capita of Mali.

Ain’t it the other way around?

Alon Levy January 30, 2013 - 5:50 pm

I’m mocking the idea that Japan looks up to NYCT’s punctuality. Or for that matter to Switzerland’s.

sharon January 29, 2013 - 1:00 pm

I like the intrusion alarm idea IF and ONLY if people entering the tracks are heavily fined. Other wise it reduces the usefulness of the system.

Yes, it will alert train operators to slow down, a very good thing.

But it will be more effective if the person who goes onto the tracks to retrieve an item would know that a stiff penalty is coming and coming each and every time. This will reduce the number of people entering the tracks.

Other wise we will have the emergency door alarm issue which is just a nuisance because there is not enforcement.

Yes, you need to put a well publicized method of how to retrieved dropped items.

Motorist are fined bad behavior but subway riders are let slide. The mta could raise significant revenue by fining riders who violate rules. Right now stuff like paying the fare on a bus, walking through emergency exits(whether entering or leaving it is a violation) and throwing garbage on the tracks is rarely ticketed.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 3:43 pm

How can you fine riders that are dead?

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 7:10 pm

Put a lien on their estate. And, if that doesn’t work, pilfer their organs for profit.

Alon Levy January 29, 2013 - 8:06 pm

There was a post on this blog a few weeks ago about how it would be possible to build platform edge doors that can align themselves to multiple door configurations. On top of that, some lines have just one set of door configurations, including the L, the 4/5/6, the 7, and maybe also the 1/2/3 (not sure whether the R62s and the R142s have the same door configuration). The MTA could help make this process faster by ordering future trains to have the same door configuration as the R160, but that would require competence and forethought that aren’t currently present there.

Although platform edge/screen doors work best with ATO, when Stephen Smith asked he got a few examples of PEDs without ATO. It requires the train operators to be professional, but so what? It’s nothing that’s not done in multiple other cities.

The second button thing is also a solvable problem. It should not require more than one button to open both sets of doors. For example, the PEDs/PSDs could be built to detect whether there’s a train docked at the station, and if there is, what kind, and then the same button would open both sets of doors.

Door holding is actually harder with PSDs, because a passenger has to hold both doors to get through. Passengers don’t hold doors for lulz; they hold doors to squeeze on a train that’s about to leave, and if they need to hold two sets of doors to do so, then they’re less likely to succeed. Between this and the elimination of track intrusion incidents, on-time performance should go up rather than down.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 8:09 pm

(not sure whether the R62s and the R142s have the same door configuration).

Nah, there’s about a foot difference between the two configurations.

Alon Levy January 30, 2013 - 8:18 pm

A foot shouldn’t be a problem; the doors could be wide enough for either. A foot-wide gap on the side of the door is not a problem, except incrementally for air conditioning costs.

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 10:08 am

Really, how much of the developed world is bothering?

Someone January 29, 2013 - 10:52 am

We are the developed world…

Someone January 29, 2013 - 8:13 am

I think that platform screen doors is a great idea. They just have to retire the R46s and R68s early.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 11:05 am

I meant, like the 2011 retirement dates originally planned for the R46.

D.R. Graham January 29, 2013 - 11:13 am

And they would have to abandon the R179 order as well. The 179s are 75 foot equipment to replace the R46s and some other cars in the fleet. Likely the 32s. I won’t say the 68s as they have plenty of time left. But it would mean the shifting of stock in yards to have the new order operating on some of the more historical IND lines and a couple of BMT lines like Brighton.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 12:25 pm

No, the 179s are going to replace the 32s and 42s not replaced by the 160s. They will definitely be 60 feet long, as they are going to have to run on the C, J, Q, and Z trains. Even if it were to replace the R44s, they would be 60 feet (because some of them were going to replace the 42s.)
The R211 contract would have had to also be early, and a new contract for 185 expansion cars, rather than the R211 contract, would have had to be placed in 2017.

sharon January 29, 2013 - 1:06 pm

Ok lets go with the platform doors and we can subsidize it with TWU local 100 immediately allowing the mta to phase out conductors on the L train followed with allowing the phase out on other lines when the mta sees fit with no layoffs.

If you had platform doors on the L you really should be running the L ZPTO with security patrols

And OPTO on non CBTC line could be used with ipads like flat panels in the train operator position. Screens with built in electronics and wifi are now paper thin.

A better short term solution is railings to block non door opening areas and an intrusion system

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 1:14 pm

Oh, fuck security patrols. They can’t be everywhere at once, and the the bang:buck ratio is terrible. Besides, anyone short of a trained martial artist or gun-toting cop is another potential victim. And cops are likely easier victims than people believe, given their propensity for donuts and relatively poor training.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 3:39 pm


They don’t use those in Paris and other cities with totally driverless systems and platform screen doors.

It is already CBTC operation with advanced speed control.

OPTO on non CBTC line is possible but is prohibited by TWU Local 100 on most trains due to their length.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 7:49 pm

And there’s a name for ZPTO. It is “driverless train operation”.

Alon Levy January 29, 2013 - 8:11 pm

I haven’t seen a security patrol anywhere on SkyTrain. (Nor a ticket inspector, but that’s a separate issue.)

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines January 29, 2013 - 9:13 am

[…] Obstruction Sensors Seen as Alternative to Subway Platform Doors (CapNY, NYT, SAS) […]

TP January 29, 2013 - 9:23 am

We also need to point to the safety of the subway when compared with competing modes of transportation. It’s much safer to ride the subway in New York than it is to drive a car. Can we have politicians demanding answers for the people who die in car accidents every day?

Someone January 29, 2013 - 9:30 am

When in doubt, always use public transportation.

It’s much safer to ride the subways and buses because you have experienced, sober drivers on the trains who won’t risk people’s lives to travel.

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 10:05 am

They imagine that, in driving a car, an accident is your fault. And just in case, the law keeps liability minimal anyway.

With transit, the fault is someone else’s. Crazy person pushed you in the tracks? Blacks attempting to rob you? The TO didn’t brake in time? Oh well, in the end, the MTA is at least partly liable.

sharon January 29, 2013 - 1:15 pm

I think we will have a much larger number of subway suicides this year due to all the publicity . Suicide by train is en vogue . Someone wanting to end it will find a way whether running in front of a train or jumping off a bridge, slicing ones wrist or running into traffic. These incidents should not be used to judge the need for screens or no screens, it is the slips and falls and retrieval of items on the track . The intrusion system will reduce most of those incidents and adding simple, inexpensive piped railings about 3 feet high combined with the intrusion system will cancel out 99% combined with aggressive enforcement of violators. The screens will cause so many delays and will be monumentally expensive to maintain. We will be talking about broken doors the same way we talk about broken elevators and escalators. I am old enough to remember the hassles of doors being cut out of subway cars and mess it caused

Bruce M January 29, 2013 - 7:08 pm

Simple piped railings–I was thinking the exact same thing.
While not perfect, they would at least be something to grab
on to in some situations–like if you lost your balance leaning over looking for that IND train. The spacing won’t be quite as
critical, and this would cost a fraction of what automated screen doors would cost to install, and minimal cost to maintain.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 7:45 pm

That was actually tested out in the Grand Central station in 1985. At least, on the first few cars.

Alon Levy January 30, 2013 - 8:21 pm

If it was tested, why did it not spread? Was it too hard to align the cars precisely along the railings?

Someone January 30, 2013 - 9:27 pm

No, I think they never caught on, and these railings were removed before or by the time the station was made ADA-accessible.

Alon Levy January 29, 2013 - 8:15 pm

Even without suicides, the social rate of return on PEDs/PSDs exceeds 10%.

JK January 29, 2013 - 12:52 pm

Ben, you’re totally right that the hoopla over platform edge doors are a distraction from the transit funding abyss and fecklessness of state elected officials. But do you really think it’s a “ruse?” Maybe the dailys and free papers know subway platform stories draw readers — since lots of their readers are standing on those very platforms during rush hour. If it is a ruse, who do you think is pushing the platform edge story?

sharon January 29, 2013 - 1:29 pm

of course the Hoopla is to draw readers.

It angers me of the transit spending abyss your keep referring to .
THE MTA HAS PLENTY OF MONEY. It taxes the average middle class person to death with a myrid of hidden taxes . I can’t refinance my mortgage because the 2% recording tax sucks up almost all of the savings.

if it only paid market rate for it;s employees and not saddle with work rules that don’t match the needs of a modern transit system.

The mta paid 10 plus or more for station agents that it planned to phase out and obviously did not need.

They pays full days pay for express bus operators when many runs need part time operators

Conductors on subways lines

Train cleaners who get paid nearly $25 an hour before benfits while the NYC DOE pays about $17 for the same position in schools.

Take a look at what nassau county has done With NICE. For 1/5th the cost they are providing nearly the same level of service.

Lets introduce competition to the bus operations. Not with the COST PLUS contracts that the privates operated under but real competition .

Hey we have charter schools operating in public school building, why not have competition on bus operations.

History has proven, whatever increase in revenue there is out there, the TWU/Democratic machine funnels the money into the union over the riders.

There is a new big pot of gold coming in the next few years as real estate tax revenue will increase. Lets hope we pay down the debt and get more cost savings so the mta can pay less interest payments and use more of the money it has for service

Someone January 29, 2013 - 3:37 pm

The platform edge doors issue was originally being pushed not by the MTA itself, but by Londoners, Hong Kongers, and Parisians who went to NYC and saw a lot of platform deaths because of NYCT’s failure to install platform doors.

Benjamin Kabak January 29, 2013 - 3:40 pm

Do you have any proof to back that up? I’ve never heard that, and I do not believe it’s true.

The first doors were installed in Russia during the communist era.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 3:47 pm

Platform screen doors were first considered in NYCT six or seven years ago, originally planned for the new stations at 11 Ave-34 Street, 10 Avenue, 72 St-2 Ave, 86 St-2 Ave, and 96 St-2 Ave.

The doors in Russia are such that the rider has no view of the platform when the doors are closed.

Alon Levy January 29, 2013 - 8:19 pm

PSDs on new-build lines are older than that. Singapore’s underground stations all have PSDs, some dating from the late 1980s. London’s Jubilee line extension and Paris Metro Line 14 have PSDs, dating from the 90s and early 2000s.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 9:46 pm

I believe that in the 80s and 90s, the MTA did not consider them because of fears that the doors would be prone to vandalism.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 9:47 pm

I think that the PSDs on the Hong Kong MTR date from the late 1990s.

Larry Littlefield January 29, 2013 - 1:05 pm

The reason there is all this hoopla how is because deaths peak around the holidays, either due to drunks falling to the tracks or suicides. The fact that 2001 was a low year, after 9/11.

Is anyone keeping track of the people killed by buses? It’s substantial if not only NYCT buses are included. Should there be barriers on all the streets, too?

Ben is right. It is the evil ones trying to avoid people blaming them for what they have done.

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 1:20 pm

Actually, street barriers make more sense. I suspect they’re another misdirect, but they at least could be practical for fantasy LRT or especially real-life SBS stops – going by ascending probability of crowding.

Of course, the best safety investments are more rail transit, barriers or not. But carheads and bus advocates alike are allies against that one.

SEAN January 29, 2013 - 1:32 pm

And just who prey tell are the evil ones anyway?

Jeff January 29, 2013 - 1:33 pm

No barriers are not on the street, but at least the DOT does go out and address problem spots where there are frequent deaths.

Those people who’s been in NYC long enough should remember the whole hoopla regarding Queens Blvd (aka the Blvd of Death) more than a decade ago where 70 people dying in a 7 year span was considered a lot, and all sorts of concrete barriers, street light adjustments, traffic calming measures, signs warning people to not get killed, etc were enacted (all combined to decrease the # of deaths on the road to extremely small levels)

If you ask me 50 fatalities a year in the subway is pretty significant. You put 50 deaths under any other context and it becomes huge news. Its also tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements and lawyer fees. You just can’t dismiss these guys as mere statistics, and if there are ways to prevent their deaths then it should be done.

Bolwerk January 29, 2013 - 1:47 pm

I concur with you, but there is the whole matter of degree. The subway causes dozens of non-suicide deaths out of billions of rides, and the deaths are mostly through rider negligence of their own person. Roads cause hundreds of such deaths out of hundreds of millions of rides, and the fault is nearly universally the driver killing someone else through his negligence.

Then, it’s not even the statistics that people are getting upset about – it’s the statistical blip of two murders late last year.

Someone January 29, 2013 - 3:35 pm

Those are very stupid people getting hit by vehicles because they don’t look both ways before crossing the street. It is their fault only and no one else’s.

Matthias January 30, 2013 - 10:25 am

Oh really? What about drivers who are speeding and/or not paying attention?

Someone January 30, 2013 - 1:23 pm

Well, drivers have to pay attention too. The problem is that they forget that humans are weaker than hunks of metal.

Alon Levy January 29, 2013 - 8:20 pm

People need to cross the streets, and barriers make it harder and reduce pedestrian-friendliness. In contrast, nobody needs to cross subway tracks.

Bolwerk January 30, 2013 - 10:54 am

I think the most dangerous activity buses do is turn. In NYC, they are dangerous when they leave stops because they pull over. So barriers in those cases could make sense.

But, a better solution is curb extensions or, if we want to be cheap, just stopping in the middle of the street. In many cities (e.g., Philly) buses and trolleys don’t bother pulling over, which means both faster and safer surface transit. NYC should probably just do that, though I suspect curbside access is part of the crusader code of the bus ideologue crowd and carheads alike, albeit for different reasons.

A union goal amidst talk of a subway slowdown :: Second Ave. Sagas February 11, 2013 - 12:17 am

[…] about it, from just ignoring it,” TWU VP Kevin Harrington, ignoring the fact that the MTA isn’t ignoring platform safety, said. “[Change is] going to have to come from the riders, because the Transit Authority is […]


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