Sliding Doors On Subway Platforms?

Sliding Doors
An example of the type of doors that might one day be waiting for you on subway platforms. Photo courtesy of DelMundo for the NY Daily News.

Fresh on the heels of the death of Brendan Mahoney by a Brooklyn-bound L Train train comes word that the MTA is looking into installing sliding doors on subway platforms. The overall goal would be to prevent people from falling to the tracks as well as litter being thrown onto them.

This is not a new idea with the agency as back in September 2007, they had revealed their plan to install them as part of the 7 line extension. Pete Donohue of the New York Daily News has more in this report:

The MTA may install sliding mechanical doors on subway platforms so riders can’t fall, jump – or get pushed to the tracks.

The metal-and-glass doors would be part of a barrier along a platform’s edge and would open only after a train stops at the station, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority document shows.

The system would help prevent tragic incidents, like the Sunday morning death on the L train tracks of 24-year-old Brendan Mahoney in Brooklyn, officials said.

And it would protect riders from killers like Andrew Goldstein, the mental patient who shoved 32-year-old Kendra Webdale to her death in front of a speeding N train beneath Madison Square Park in 1999.

In 2009 alone, 90 people were struck by trains – and 40 died, NYC Transit stats show. “We are very early in the process of looking at the possibility of installing platform doors that would go a long way toward enhancing passenger safety and station appearance,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.

The protective platforms under consideration are increasingly common overseas in cities like London, Paris and Tokyo. They are also in use closer to home at AirTrain stops in Queens and in New Jersey.

Subway riders yesterday said the platform barriers and doors would be a good addition but worried about the costs and whether installation would drive fares up.

“I think it’s great but … I don’t know where they’ll get the funds to finance that,” said Dave Ugelow, a 24-year-old Manhattan law student. “Anything that can prevent people from falling or jumping on the tracks is a good thing.”

Click here for the complete report.

I must say that I am not the biggest fan of this idea. While it does make a lot of sense to keep people safe & prevent litter from reaching the trackbed, I don’t feel this is a project that the agency should undertake.

While it is early in the process & they would look to pass on the majority of the cost to a partner, I feel whatever money they do spend could be better used for more pressing needs. While one person falling to the tracks & being injured or dying is one too many, it does not mean that millions have to be spent to avoid such occurrences. The majority of these stories happen at the fault of the person who ended up on the tracks.

Also with anything the MTA touches, one can expect glitches. What happens if they do not properly open when a train stops in the station? What if too much pressure is put on the doors as people bum rush train doors & it cracks & crashes down? I know it sounds like doomsday scenarios, but they are a possibility. Lastly, could we really expect these things to not get destroyed by low class morons? We all know that the MTA can never install anything nice & it stay that way!

In the end, I can understand the positive points one could make about them but I feel the potential negatives are just as strong & even possibly outweigh the benefits. So I remain against them until failsafe options can be put in place & the agency’s finances would enable the project to be done right.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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