Atlantic Cities

After Another Death, MTA Reconsiders Protective Platform Doors

After Another Death, MTA Reconsiders Protective Platform Doors
Reuters

After 54 deaths on the subway tracks this year — including two horrific fatal pushes in December alone — New York's transit authority says it will revisit plans to install protective platform doors, according to the Daily News. The MTA later put out a statement confirming that report (via Gothamist).

This isn't the first time MTA has considered platform barriers. About two years ago it put out a request for proposals on a gate system "to enhance passenger safety, comfort and overall station appearance" [PDF]. That request listed ten system criteria, including flexible (and remote) door control, integration with existing infrastructure, and advertising display options.

Critically, the MTA asked for "financing options involving little or no upfront construction costs."

Nothing ever came of the initiative, though according to the Daily News the agency did receive a proposal that seems to satisfy all the requested standards. That plan came from a New York company called Crown Infrastructure, which was reportedly willing to install the platform doors for free, in exchange for advertising revenue.

The company's Facebook page describes a plan "specifically engineered" for the New York subway system — in response to the MTA's request for proposals — called "Platform Media." According to that description, the Platform Media program would not only be implemented "at no cost to the MTA or the city" but it would generate revenue for the agency over the long-term through its digital advertising display. The company also claims to have designed a construction schedule that allowed for installation without service interruptions.

The Crown Infrastructure website offers some additional details on Platform Media as well as some pretty basic renderings of the platform setup …

… and a very basic one of the advertising panels:

MTA Interim Director Thomas Prendergast told the Daily News the proposal was in "suspended animation" — it hadn't been rejected but hadn't been embraced either. The legitimacy of the neglected plan will be hard to determine until the agency releases the full details. While Platform Media looks good on ether, perhaps the agency didn't like the revenue split, or maybe the old "varied station designs" were just too varied to handle after all.

Still this type of project seems worth a try, at least in a pilot program. The barriers bring a number of other benefits besides passenger safety: they keep garbage off the track, dampen train noise, control platform temperature, and show people where to line up for the door. A number of other countries use them, including Japan.

In the past there's been oddly vocal opposition to the idea of platform barriers on the New York subway. For sure, the idea might not be worth taxpayer money: fitting all 468 stations would cost hundreds of millions of dollars (and in some cases may be impossible), all to remove the chance of an event that — while tragic and terrible — is exceedingly rare. But if the MTA has a genuine "no cost" offer it has very little to lose, and a great deal of public confidence to gain.

Images via the Crown Infrastructure website.

Top image: A man waits for the subway at the Times Square stop in New York. (Andrew Burton/Reuters)

Eric Jaffe is a contributing writer to The Atlantic Cities and the author of A Curious Madness (2014) and The King's Best Highway (2010). He lives in New York. All posts »

Join the Discussion