Image courtesy of Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit on Flickr
After the tragic killing of a subway rider pushed in front of a train earlier this month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has finally heeded the calls of transit advocates and New Yorkers and will be testing platform doors at three stations in Manhattan and Queens. The MTA will be piloting the barriers at Times Square on the 7 line, at Third Avenue on the L line, and at Sutphin Boulevard/JFK on the E line, as MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber told NY1 Wednesday morning.
Many stations are not currently optimized to have platform barriers installed, whether it be because of the curvature of the platforms or because of a high quantity of columns. According to a 2019 MTA report, approximately 27 percent of the city’s 128 subway stations can accommodate platform barriers. The three stations in which the barriers will be implemented have the proper structure for their installation, Lieber stated.
“Those three stations are where we are looking forward to trying a pilot,” Lieber said in an interview with NY1’s Pat Kiernan. “We’re also going to be piloting new technologies to detect track incursion using thermal technology, using laser technology, so we can know quicker when people get on the tracks and hopefully, interdict that kind of behavior.”
New Yorkers have been calling for platform barriers on the subway for years, and the recent surge in crime on the transit system has prodded MTA officials to revisit the idea. According to a press release, since officials announced the new subway safety plan to stop homeless New Yorkers from taking shelter in the transit system last Friday, there have already been nine subway assaults.
One major advocate for the installation of the barriers is Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, who according to amNewYork Metro last month urged the MTA to prevent the needless deaths of subway riders through the implementation of platform doors.
“This pilot program is an important first step toward making our subway system a more resilient and safe place for commuting New Yorkers,” Levine said in a statement. “It will not only help stop future tragedies like the Michelle Go murder but also prevent other incidents like people falling on the tracks, suicide attempts and track fires which are some of the main causes of subway delays.”
“I want to commend the MTA for committing to starting this important pilot program, as well as the Manhattan delegation of the New York City Council and the transit advocates that have pushed for this crucial safety upgrade on our rails.”
In 2017, the MTA announced that they would be taking after many of the major transit systems in Asia and Europe and implementing platform barriers during 2019 to prevent people from falling or jumping into the tracks. However, the plan ultimately fell through and no barriers were ever installed.
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