New safety feature could soon improve your commute


Every day, some five mil­lion rid­ers nego­ti­ate New York’s labyrinthine sub­way sys­tem. It is the world’s most exten­sive under­ground trans­porta­tion net­work, and has been run­ning 110 years long. Unfor­tu­nately, New York saw almost one subway-related death per week last year, with con­sid­er­ably more injuries.

Tak­ing a cue from some of the world’s busiest mass tran­sit sys­tems, like Tokyo and Seoul, the MTA is now con­sid­er­ing retro­fitting high traf­fic sta­tions with floor-to-ceiling slid­ing glass doors act­ing as a bar­rier between the tracks and platform.

Plat­form edge doors not only improve secu­rity, but also can bet­ter the over­all atmos­phere of the plat­form by low­er­ing heat or air con­di­tion­ing loss as well as excess noise. Sim­i­lar pro­pos­als have been con­sid­ered in the past, but the lack of fund­ing and con­struc­tion com­pli­ca­tions have halted any fur­ther study. As stated in the last report on the sub­ject, “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.”

How­ever, after sev­eral high pro­file sub­way deaths, the MTA is review­ing a pro­posal put forth by New York-based con­struc­tion com­pany Crown Infra­struc­ture. The com­pany would install floor-to-ceiling glass slid­ing doors and walls free of charge in exchange for a deal split­ting rev­enue on adver­tis­ing sales. More impres­sively, the com­pany sug­gests instal­la­tion could be com­pleted with­out inter­rupt­ing ser­vice schedules.

The goal of any pub­lic tran­sit admin­is­tra­tion is to increase rid­er­ship with­out jeop­ar­diz­ing safety and effi­ciency. The ques­tion is whether the instal­la­tion of these doors will improve this, and if it can trig­ger an over­all pos­i­tive out­look for the MTA. New York’s sub­way sys­tem is no stranger to com­plaints, and these mod­ern­ized instal­la­tions could improve the look and feel of the sta­tions. As Bogota’s mayor famously stated last year, “A devel­oped coun­try is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use pub­lic transportation.”


Photo: Wikipedia