Home View from Underground News Roundup: Bed bugs, track detection

News Roundup: Bed bugs, track detection

by Benjamin Kabak

Tomorrow I should have something more on the new neighborhood maps the MTA is slowly unveiling throughout the city as part of NYC DOT’s WalkNYC, but for now, you’ll have to wait. I have an inquiry in concerning a certain feature that likely is still in place in a diminished form, and I’d like to get out to Crown Heights to snap some photos. Sit tight. Tonight, instead, I have a news round-up.

Bed bugs found on — and now gone from — the N train

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good old fashioned bed bug scare in the subway. The last one, in fact, dates from the height of the bed bug infestation in 2008 when wooden subway benches seemed to provide a safe haven for the cimicid insects. The problem came roaring back into the headlines last week when a few N trains were taken out of service due to reports of insect sightings. The infested cars — and the rest of their trains — were fumigated, and the R160s were placed back in service. While the Daily News reported of a bed bug sighting on the 5 over the weekend, the MTA has said that its trains, as far as agency personnel know, are now free from these bugs. I wouldn’t have had much of an occasion to ride the N train since the infestation first hit the news. Have you?

Transit testing track detection system at Rector St. unidentified station

As the MTA responds to last year’s brouhaha over subway/passenger collision deaths, the agency has moved forward with plans to test a track intrusion detection system. Pete Donohue had the opportunity to tour the setup at the unidentified station as part of a Daily News exclusive, but as the MTA allowed photos, it soon because obvious which station is hosting this pilot. As a few astute Subchatters posited, it appears as though Rector St. — which these days sees limited service due to the Sandy-related R train closure — is playing host to the system. Without 24/7 R service, the MTA can test the system without interrupting live train service. Donohue had more details:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been testing several “track intrusion” detection systems at a secret location — featuring thermal imaging cameras, laser-beam transmitters and other high-tech tools intended to alert the motorman if someone falls on the tracks. The tests have gone so well, transit executives now expect to begin installing one or more of the systems in subway stations during the 2015-2019 capital program, officials told the Daily News. “It’s not going to happen at 468 stations overnight, but once we determine the best technology, and identify funding sources, we can go out and start deployment,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said…

Konal Kumar, an associate project manager, lowered a large inflated rubber ball, wrapped with thin cable, from the platform. The breach was detected by laser beams scanning the platform edge. Automatically, diamond-shaped signals, which instruct motormen to slow down, began flashing along 300 feet of track that leads into the station. Closed-circuit television cameras, meanwhile, transmitted live video feeds to a monitor set up in the station for the demonstration. When fully implemented, video will be displayed on dispatchers’ screens in the Rail Control Center in Midtown, along with schematics showing exactly where along the platform the track intrusion occurred, a detail that will help first responders.

Train operators won’t immediately slam the brakes. They will slow down but only halt if they see someone on the tracks, or are directed to stop completely by a dispatcher, Bienstock said.

According to Donohue, the system could cost between $50,000 and $500,000 per station — a huge range that could lead to massive costs for the MTA. Would platform edge doors, similar to those found in Tokyo, be a more affordable solution? MTA estimates say no, but either way, a systemwide solution will be costly and ultimately imperfect. The lives saved over the course of the system’s useful life will though likely be worth it.

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12 comments

Bolwerk August 13, 2014 - 9:24 am

Pretty sure I saw a bedbug in the NYPL Science, Industry, and Business Library computer lab.

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Charlie August 13, 2014 - 11:24 am

If this track detection system causes too many false alarms, delays could render the subway useless. Or, if it costs the entire traveling public, say, ten minutes per week in additional travel time, maybe the small number of lives saved isn’t worth it?

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tacony August 13, 2014 - 11:48 am

Can somebody save the images of the old neighborhood maps somewhere? I use them to find staircase locations on the Weekender app all the time. It’s kinda funny that they’re the only “official” location they’re mapped, and I actually enjoy the old historical places on the maps that no longer exist (what year did they get rid of the “Airline Ticket Office” in Grand Central?)

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Michael K August 13, 2014 - 12:49 pm

That is because Pentagram is in the process of making new ones right now: http://www.wnyc.org/story/mta-.....bway-maps/

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Michael K August 13, 2014 - 12:47 pm

Someone at NYCT has duped us all (or has been duped) into thinking that this high tech system is better than platform doors.

hahahahahaha laugh all the way to the bank, planning consultants!!!!

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tacony August 13, 2014 - 1:01 pm

Yep, especially when this thermal-imaging/laser sensing system inevitably ends up costing more than platform doors would have, presents false positives that cause more service disruptions, and freaks out when some idiot throws a soda can from the platform or rats scurry along the track bed. I hope I’m proven wrong.

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Bolwerk August 13, 2014 - 1:15 pm

It’s not “better,” but it’s probably more technically feasible.

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Larry Littlefield August 13, 2014 - 3:25 pm

Platform doors are technically infeasible because they keep changing the door position with each car class.

As the B division door position been standardized since the R-143? If not, why not?

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Bolwerk August 13, 2014 - 4:08 pm

I don’t know if this answers your question or is even accurate, but someone here mentioned there is another 75′ car order coming. That would make the answer a qualified no.

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John August 13, 2014 - 9:05 pm

Yep — Even if the R-211 cars have five doors per side, giving them the same 40-door total on a 600-foot car as the R-143/R-160/R-179 cars, they simply can’t be in the exact same locations. That would mean the trunk lines through midtown Manhattan, where crowding tends to be the worst, would be the least suitable for the platform doors, due to multiple routes using the same platform (you could put them on Eastern Division platforms where the 75-footers will never go, but while that’s great for crowding at Bedford Avenue or Essex Street, it doesn’t do anything for when the M train’s at Herald Square or Roosevelt Avenue).

Chris C August 13, 2014 - 4:11 pm

And cheaper too.

And if the detector fails in a station the station can still be kept open and operating.

If platform doors break down they’ll have to close the station (or at least that platform

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Epson45 August 13, 2014 - 1:18 pm Reply

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