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Screened Subway Platforms Ruled-Out for NYC

The front page photo, "Doomed" on the New York Post on Dec. 4 of pushed subway rider, Ki Suk Han attempting to lift himself from the tracks as a train approaches has captivated many - yet a proposal to prevent it from repeating it is doomed as well.
December 12, 2012, 8am PST | Irvin Dawid
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While the media has questioned whether the New York Post should have published the photo of Ki Suk Han's impending death on the front page, and even questioned the photographer who took the photo, far less attention has been given to measures that could prevent the scenario from repeating - whether the fall on to the tracks is intentional or accidental.

"Seoul's Metro has them, and Paris has been installing them in its aging subway system," writes Dana Rubinstein.  Not only does New York's subway not have them -  there are no plans to install them even in new stations for the Second Ave. line or extension of the #7 subway, both under construction.

Of course, you need not go to South Korea to experience such safety measures - most airport people movers, often going by the term, AirTrain, including those that service JFK and Newark airports, have them.  The platform is separated by doors that only open when a train has arrived, and then they only open to provide access to the train's doors.

"The doors are really the solution to prevent [subway falls] from happening," said Richard Barone, the director of transportation programs for the Regional Plan Association.

Like many capital improvements, it all comes down to cost.

"They’re quite expensive and given the 496 stations, I think that’s the number, it’d be quite prohibitive,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joe Lhota, said in March.

Barone argues that it would make sense to install the doors on the new stations on the Second Ave. subway now being built.

M.T.A. spokesman Aaron Donovan said, "Platform edge doors are not currently planned for the new stations on the Second Avenue Subway or the 7 extension. They would present operational challenges and incur long-term maintenance funding costs."

Subway riders will have to continue to do what most know they should always be doing - remaining vigilant on subway platforms. But, if a rider should experience what Ki Suk Han did on Dec. 03, and is unable to get off the tracks, with or without the help of fellow passengers, what should one do? Rubenstein asks the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for advice.

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Published on Friday, December 7, 2012 in Capital New York
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