MTA introduces platform barriers in subway safety pilot
In an effort to enhance safety in city subways, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has introduced platform barriers at the 191st Street Subway Station in Washington Heights. Aimed at preventing track intrusions, the barriers are part of a larger safety pilot program - but some commuters are left with questions about their purpose.
"I’m trying to figure out what they’re for. Is it for crowd control? Is it for safety?," said Christine Evans, a commuter who lives in Washington Heights.
The yellow barriers have left many commuters puzzled, questioning the communication behind these new additions. The safety pilot program focuses on addressing track trespassing incidents, which increased by 20% from 2019 to 2021, as reported in a 2022 MTA report. In 2021, there were 1,267 reported incidents, resulting in 200 collisions with trains and 68 fatalities.
Commuters' opinions on the effectiveness of these barriers vary.
"It's OK, something is something," said one commuter named Tito.
However, Shyyam Kahn expressed skepticism.
"I don’t see how it’s really going to save or protect anybody from somebody pushing them over," said Kahn.
“They would not spend money on this if it was something they thought was helpful - I trust them,” said Nestor M., a Washington Heights resident of 25 years.
“I’m not sure that they’re helping. They might be hindering flow of pedestrian traffic but I can see the value in the theoretical use of it,” said Kay Canama, before getting on the local 1 train.
In an announcement, MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said in part, "This is about finding creative ways to improve safety. It’s still in an experimental phase, we will be watching carefully to determine if the barriers are effective.”
The agency said, based on study findings, it will determine if this concept could be scaled up. Commuters who spoke with News 12 New York had ideas of their own.
“I think it’s a quick fix...we can do better,” said Venise Eldridge.
“I think it would've been a better idea if they had sliding doors - like fully-glass sliding doors they do that all over the world like Japan. They do that in Paris but it’s better than nothing,” added another commuter Frank Vatel.