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Rash of subway deaths leads MTA to reconsider safety barriers


The recent mayhem on train tracks from people being shoved to their deaths and jumping from platforms has led some MTA officials to reconsider barriers and technology to stem the carnage.

This year, as of Nov. 9, 44 people were killed by trains, including as a result of apparent suicides – almost as many deaths as 2015, which saw 50 fatalities the whole year.

The 2016 death toll includes Connie Watton, 49, a Queens woman who was shoved into the path of a No. 1 train at Times Square on Nov. 7.

MTA board member David Jones on Monday asked agency brass to reconsider platform barriers – and figure out the cost, timetable and key stations where they could be installed.

Man clipped by train after falling onto Brooklyn subway tracks

“We’re all still resonating from the murder that was committed on the subway and the suicides that are, (they) seem to be, becoming a regular part of the news,” Jones said. “It won’t eliminate all that but clearly, as my daughter rides the train, I think many parents, young people of all ages, would be reassured with some protective devices, particularly at the overcrowded stations in the system.”

Transit systems in London and Paris use sliding barriers on platforms.

Transport Workers Union Local 100 secretary-treasurer Earl Phillips said the MTA needs to get aggressive on bringing platform doors to New York. In the meantime, Phillips said the union still supports a slow down for trains approaching stations.


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“The train operator who actually witnessed this stuff has to live with it for the rest of their life,” Phillips said. “Their spouses and kids are the ones who hear them screaming at night.”

Man leaps to death in front of train at Port Authority

MTA officials have never embraced platform barriers or doors because of their cost, potential to slow down service and the complexity of a system where the size and shape of stations, platforms and train cars vary. MTA spokeswoman Beth DeFalco said the agency is still studying it.

One idea to test out a platform door at the 42nd St. shuttle at Times Square is likely dead, due to a renovation project in the works that would prevent it, according to NYC Transit President Ronnie Hakim.

“Platform doors … present some feasibility challenges for the transit authority,” she said.

However, the MTA has been testing out track intrusion technology, where sensors sound an alarm to Rail Control Center and a motorman that someone is on the tracks, at a station for at least two years, according to DeFalco.

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