Home MTA Absurdity NYCT to Shuttle Riders: Keep on minding the gap, buddy

NYCT to Shuttle Riders: Keep on minding the gap, buddy

by Benjamin Kabak

The 42nd Street shuttle awaits passengers while sitting on the Track 3 curve at Times Square. (Courtesy of flickr user gsdali)

In certain stations in the London Underground, a soothing voice with a slight British accent repeats ad nausea to passengers, “Mind the gap.” These stations sit on steep curves in the tracks that lead to a separation of more than a few centimetres between the platform and car edge, and the phrase has taken on a cultural significance that sees it printed on t-shirts and mugs all over London.

In New York, the MTA ignores the gap problem and pushes off necessary repairs for years in order to prioritize other capital projects. As part of the never-ending Times Square rehabilitation project, the MTA planned to fix the gap problem that led to a whopping 12 personal injury claims over the course of five years ending in 2005. But now, the MTA, already searching for solutions to the LIRR gap problem, won’t mind this gap until at least 2010, amNew York reports.

while the MTA worked to renovate much of the Times Square station during the same [five-year] period it quietly decided last year to postpone work on the Shuttle platform until the 2010-14 capital plan is implemented.

“It’s a shame that they pushed it back. It’s like renovating your house and leaving the entrance the same,” said MTA board member Andrew Albert.

The gaps in question — those on Shuttle Track 3 measure up to 14 inches or eight inches more than the accepted six-inch MTA gap — came about because the 42nd Street Shuttle runs on the original IRT route. At 42nd St., the route curved from an east-west track along the Avenue I’m Taking You To to head up north on 7th Ave. The stop at what was never Longacre Square — that name went out of fashion in April of 1904, six months before the first IRT train pulled in to Times Squares — ended up on that curve that brought the train north. And thus there is a gap that must be minded.

While platform extenders make it somewhat less dangerous, the ones in Times Square are underneath the platform unlike the giant noisy sliding things at South Ferry and Union Square. So people still trip, fall and tumble out of wheelchairs. The MTA has taken steps to solve this problem.

Those steps? Said NYCT spokesman Paul Fleuranges to amNY: “We just ask our customers to use the gap fillers and where not possible, take their time and be mindful of the gap.” So, uh, pretty please, don’t trip.

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