January 6, 2013

N.Y. weighs barriers to subway tracks

Three recent deaths spotlight the dangers, but cost and the city's image are cited as obstacles.

By JENNIFER PELTZ The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

A worker looks out of a train car and through the open doorway of the glass security barrier at Washington Dulles International Airport. New York City is considering similar safety barriers after three people died on the tracks recently.

The Associated Press

Early plans for two New York City subway line extensions, now under construction, included platform doors. But the barriers were dropped from the plans to keep costs down.

The MTA made a general request for ideas on installing and financing platform doors in 2011 but hasn't acted on it.

One suggestion, from architecture and engineering firm Crown Infrastructure Solutions: It would pay to build the structures, at an estimated $1 million per station for 468 stations, and recoup the cost from advertising on built-in screens.

"What we found is the solution to a very relevant problem, and we found a way to off-set the costs," Vice President Anthony R. Milano said this week. Besides protecting people on the platform, the barriers would help keep litter off the tracks, potentially reducing track fires, he said.

The challenges would be considerable, the MTA says. The subway system has widely varying architecture, not to mention different types of trains.

"But in light of recent tragic events, we will consider the options for testing such equipment on a limited basis," the MTA said in a statement this week.

The MTA said acting Director Thomas Prendergast wouldn't comment before a committee discusses the deaths at a meeting this month.


Some people have blasted the safety barrier idea as profligate, unnecessary -- and perhaps most damning of all, just not New York. A 2011 editorial in the Daily News dismissed the idea as "adding a touch of Disney World to New York's underground lair."

Indeed, the cinematographer David's online petition for barriers in New York has hardly gone viral, garnering about 75 signatures as of this week.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who makes a point of letting New Yorkers know he takes the subway to work, said after the second pushing death that people need not "sit there and worry every day about getting pushed over the platform."

"It is such a rare occurrence that no matter how tragic it is, it shouldn't change our lifestyle," he said. "We do live in a world where our subway platforms are open, and that's not going to change."


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