Sometimes, bad news hits the press on Saturday or Sunday, and no one notices. Luckily for the MTA, the news about their alarm boxes and the safety of track workers did just that as word came out yesterday that nearly 10 percent of track alarm boxes are out of service.
A report in The New York Post noted that the MTA had finally fixed the alarm box near 59th St.-Columbus Circle, three weeks after Daniel Boggs died after getting hit by a train and a whopping 338 days after a repair order for the box was first submitted. The boxes themselves act to immediately cut power to the third rail in a 1000-foot length of track thus allowing workers three minutes to contact command control before the power is restored. The problem at 59th St. centered around a communications cable that had knocked out power to six surrounding alarm boxes. The Post has more on this problem:
A repair order was issued on June 13, 2006, for at least one of the emergency alarms at the Columbus Circle subway station. That’s where Daniel Boggs, 42, was struck by a train and pushed against the third rail last month, on April 24. Witnesses said his body was smoldering by the time the power was turned off.
Last Sunday, a repair crew replaced the burned-out communications cable that had knocked out six alarm boxes along a stretch of track. The same faulty cable had rendered at least two emergency phones useless. It’s not known whether Boggs died upon impact or after coming in contact with the 600-volt third rail. Afterward, the agency admitted that 70 emergency alarm boxes were out of service and said crews were working to catch up with the glut of repair tickets.
But documents obtained by The Post showed that 188 emergency boxes – more than double the NYC Transit estimate – were out.
Had these alarm boxes been functioning properly, one of Boggs’ fellow crew members could have cut power before Boggs came into contact with that dangerous third rail. More alarming for MTA construction workers are those other 188 boxes still out of service. As Howard Roberts, NYCT’s president, tries to play up the MTA’s commitment to worker safety, his first step ought to be repairing this alarm boxes. It’s a no-brainer.