Every year at around this time, the MTA releases its year-end figures concerning passenger safety, and this time around, The Daily News did not fail to get too excited. As the paper notes, a whopping 147 people — or a percentage of all riders too miniscule to calculate — were struck by trains. That amounts to one accident every 2.5 days or approximately 1 accident per 12.5 million riders.
Without minimizing the loss of life — 33 percent of those hit by trains died — this isn’t exactly a problem screaming out for a solution. Still, earlier this week, New York City Transit President Tom Prendergast once again spoke out in favor of platform doors. “The primary reason is safety, ” he said. “The second is environmental control and the third is to have a better means of getting the train into the station, doing the loading and unloading, and getting the train out of the station.”
We’ve been down this road before. In fact, it was just last February when Prendergast first proposed platform doors (as long as they didn’t have to pay much), and everyone and their uncles grossly overreacted. Now with, in the words of The Daily News, “terrifying” accidents taking a “sharp leap” upward, the doors are back.
I’ll say what I said last year: If the MTA can implement platform doors while keeping expenditures low, great. They’ll keep people and trash out of the tracks while allowing for more temperate platforms. But the cost of implementing such a plan, let alone the practicalities at a time when door spacing on various rolling stock models has yet to be fully standardized, could be astronomical. And at that point, the costs far, far outweigh the benefits.