Over the past few weeks, as accidents involving straphangers who jump or fall into trackbeds have gained headlines, some transit watchers have renewed calls for platform doors. The benefits, as I’ve discussed are numerous, but the costs could be astronomical. While platform doors could better protect the MTA’s passengers, another issue surrounding passenger safety concerns platform space.
As New York 1’s Tina Redwine noted last week, station renovations often leave platforms with very little space. Her article focused mainly on the impact of ongoing construction, but the final products leave space at a premium too. As Redwine notes, on the IND platform at Broadway/Lafayette, areas currently under construction leave just 51 inches of space for people to wait for trains and walk down the platform. It isn’t nearly enough.
The problem, though, doesn’t end with the construction. As the MTA renovates stations for ADA compliance and grafts bulky elevators into 70- or 100-year-old stations, straphangers lose platform space. As staircases appear, waiting areas disappear. Grand Central on the IRT, for instance, wouldn’t feel so cramped if the platform areas for people waiting for trains weren’t so miniscule. There is, of course, no easy answer here as these upgrades are both necessary and required, but as the MTA searches for ways to make platforms safer, examining the amount of space we have while waiting should be a no-brainer.