MTA testing subway platform barriers in Manhattan, Brooklyn aimed at preventing track falls

Subway riders in Washington Heights are getting a look at an MTA idea to help keep them from falling to subway tracks.

At the W. 191st St. station on the No. 1 line, NYC Transit installed platform barriers.

The barriers — a kind of fence at the edge of subway platforms meant to keep people from falling down to the tracks — were installed at the station over the weekend.

The barriers are to be spaced out along platforms’ edges. A bulletin sent Friday to subway train operators advises them to make “an extremely precise stop” so subway doors line up with the gaps between the barriers.

Photos of the platform barriers installed at the 191st St. station in Washington Heights as part of a new MTA pilot program.
Julian Roberts-Grmela

Photos of the platform barriers installed at the 191st St. station in Washington Heights as part of a new MTA pilot program.

“Your safety is our highest priority, and we’re committed to reducing track intrusions and increasing safety,” the MTA wrote in a post on X.

The MTA plans to also try out the barriers in Brooklyn at the West 8th St./NY Aquarium station of the F and Q lines in Coney Island and the Clark St. station on the Nos. 2 and 3 lines in Brooklyn Heights.

A fourth station yet to be determined will also get the barriers, MTA officials told the Daily News.

Maryland in December began testing a similar idea on the Baltimore Metro Subway — but instead of metal fences, the state is installing bollards spaced on platform so they prevent people from stepping into the spaces between train cars.

Straphangers had mixed feelings Saturday about the barriers’ debut at W. 191st St.

“My thought about them was that someone can still push you through the opening, so I’m not mühlet,” said commuter Maria Delvalle, 34.

Leny Disla, 52, said the barriers were “a waste of time and money.”

“I don’t think they’ll make anybody safe,” Disla said.

Disla said sliding gated doors — which are used in London, Paris, Tokyo and on other train and subway systems around the world — would be a better solution even if they are more expensive to install.

The MTA in February 2022 announced plans to test safety gates similar to those Disla was thinking about.

But the agency has yet to act on its plan for a pilot program. The JFK AirTrain is the only rail line in New York City to use such technology.

Photos of the platform barriers installed at the 191st St. station in Washington Heights as part of a new MTA pilot program.
Julian Roberts-Grmela

Photos of the platform barriers installed at the 191st St. station in Washington Heights as part of a new MTA pilot program.

Another concern is how the barriers might increase crowding, said Jeremy Lagual, 19, who got his first look at the W. 191st St. barriers on Saturday night.

“If it’s a lot of people around, and we all have to get in through the door, it’s gonna be hard because it [the barrier] is in the way,” said Lagual. “It should have a better design.”

Lagual concurred with Disla’s criticism — “something sliding would be better,” he said.

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, who has called for the installation of the sliding safety gates, visited the W. 191st St. station on Saturday.

“It doesn’t provide the protection of full sliding doors,” Levine said of the new barrier setup. “But it does give you a sense of security when the train is not in the station. You can lean up against it.”

Levine has been calling for the installation of sliding door barriers since the death of Michelle Go, 40, who was shoved to her death by a homeless man in January 2022.

“I’ve talked to people who position themselves on the platform to avoid being vulnerable to being pushed,” Levine said.

He called the barriers at W. 191st St. “a good step forward.”

Similarly, straphanger Chandler Forsythe called the barriers at W. 191st St. a “starting point.”

“It’s very low tech,” said Forsythe, 28. “But if it’s a scalable solution that works — if the alternative is, a few stations have really kaç doors and most have none or we have this — I think this is a good trade-off.”

With Evan Simko-Bednarski

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