Slow down trains to save lives, says pol

January 11, 2013 Editorial Staff
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The Big Apple was suddenly terrorized at the news of three individuals being pushed into the path of incoming trains at the end of 2012, events that resulted in calls for immediate reforms from local politicians to attempt to prevent future misfortunes.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile has a pragmatic approach to the problem that, he said, wouldn’t cost the city a huge amount of money but could make a major difference: making trains slow down when they enter the stations.

Gentile thinks that his solution could help spare the lives of people who fall onto the train tracks, whether from being pushed or accidentally.

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“If new rules were implemented requiring trains to enter stations at a slower speed, then it would give the train a better chance to stop in time if someone is on the tracks or give that person a better chance to get off the tracks, into an alcove, or run to the opposite end of the track into the mouth of tunnel away from the train,” Gentile said in a letter to New York City Transit President Thomas Prendergast.

This cost-effective alternative, as Gentile called it, “can be instituted quickly and at minimum cost to the transit system,” Gentile said.

However, Kevin Ortiz, a spokesperson for the MTA,  disagreed, contending it would instead slow down service.

“We won’t be able to run as many trains and that would result in crowded conditions at stations,” Ortiz told this paper. “As always, we remind customers to stay away from the platform edge.”
A slower system, however, is something that Gentile is willing to accept, telling members of the Dyker Heights Civic Association at their January meeting, “It may add a minute or so to the transaction of people getting on and off but, till we come up with a better solution, it’s a sacrifice we have to make.”

Gentile’s solution isn’t the only one being mooted about. Other elected officials have suggested installing barriers.

But, said Ortiz, “Based on the MTA’s preliminary analysis, the challenge of installing platform edge barriers in the New York City subway system would be both expensive and extremely challenging given the varied station designs and the differences in door positions among some subway car classes.”

In 2012, there were more than 1.63 billion trips on the subway and 55 fatalities.

“In light of recent tragic events, we will consider the options for testing such equipment on a limited basis,” Ortiz concluded.

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