NYC Councilman Wants To Get Serious About Subway Deaths


All power to him.

Yesterday, City Councilman and Transportation Committee chair James Vacca called for an “emergency hearing” on a problem that cannot escape the headlines: the increasingly high tendency of straphangers to, either purposefully or by matter of coercion, come to their deaths on the subway tracks. The announcement came almost immediately after it was discovered that a man had committed suicide in front of the 2 train at Times Square earlier that day.

According to Vacca, the “emergency hearing” needs to be collaborative in order to find a solution: “”The MTA needs to bring all the stakeholders to the table and acknowledge that this is a serious problem that demands a coordination solution, and they must tell the public what their plan is… Even one life lost on our subway tracks is one life too many.”

On average, subway trains in New York hit about 150 people a year, killing a third of them. So, yes, Vacca is definitely onto something. And maybe this “emergency hearing” can provide some solutions to a situation that seriously demands them.

In the past few weeks, we’ve reported on two (kinda) viable proposals to fend off the fatalities. First, there was mention of the possible experimentation of platform doors at the Bedford L stop, where a lady fell into the tracks just a few days ago. However, the MTA has been messing around with this idea now for some time; its only problem: it’s damn expensive. And the MTA is a bit strapped for cash – you’ll find that out in a month or two when your fares go up a bit.

The second idea was provided by the Transport Workers Union Local 100: the suggestion to conductors to slow down as subway trains come into the station. As we said, the average speed for an incoming train is fast (30 to 35mph, to be exact) and the union wanted to bring it down to 10mph. Unfortunately, this idea’s problem goes beyond cost. If the trains were to slow down, schedules will be delayed, causing system-wide disruptions in services. So, yeah, not the most perfect idea.

But, the MTA has been slacking in the ideas category. The only real-time solutions that are being put into motion are simply informational. In other words, you’ll just hear that robotic lady really stress the fact that you need to stay behind the yellow line. And see more advertisements saying that, too. Although these are all beneficial, they don’t necessarily attack the problem head-on because it’s without a doubt that we tune that lady’s voice out unless she’s telling us when the next train is coming.

With that being said, the “emergency hearing” is long overdue. The Voice will keep you updated on what proliferates.