Recommended Platform Screen Door Pilot to Be Initiated at Three Subway Stations
Task Force Recommends Additional Pilot Programs for Track Intrusion Detection Systems, Expansion of Laser Detection Systems, Front-Facing Cameras on Subway and Commuter Rail Trains and Enhanced Platform Camera Technology
Partnership with State and City to Focus on Mental Health Outreach, Also Deploying NYPD on Subway Trains and Platforms
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced a multi-pronged approach to protect passengers from the risks of trespassing on the tracks within subway and commuter rail systems. On December 10, 2021, the Authority launched a Track Trespassing Task Force to study solutions aimed at reducing track intrusions, which have increased throughout the transit system by 20 percent between 2019 and 2021 and resulted in 68 fatalities last year. The task force released its findings to the MTA Board during the Authority’s February meeting and recommended a series of communications, operations, and capital initiatives to enhance customer safety and prevent service disruptions.
The task force analyzed data on intrusions and collisions, established a new tracking method for more detailed information as to the causes and impacts of people entering tracks. It conducted a survey of homelessness in the system and reviewed previous studies, including the Platform Screen Doors feasibility study released last month. A full report on the task force’s findings will be released next month.
"The MTA wants to deal with this problem of track intrusions in all of its complexity,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “It's not just the violent assault we saw last month, which was a horrific version of this problem, but also everyday incidents of people retrieving cell phones or trying to cross between platforms. It's a huge risk to safety and the day-to-day operation of the system. We began looking at this issue last fall and have come up with a number of proactive strategies that are moving forward.”
“The Task Force looked comprehensively at the problem of track intrusion and identified practical solutions involving improved customer communications, security and outreach, and innovative technology solutions,” said MTA Construction & Development President and Track Trespass Task Force Lead Jamie Torres-Springer. “Our recommendations will educate riders about the risks of getting on the tracks, prevent intrusions, and reduce injuries and fatalities.”
The initiatives presented to the MTA board will build on the Authority’s ongoing efforts, which include messaging campaigns, in-station Help Points, platform edge warning strips and Laser Intrusion Detection Systems. The MTA announced the following recommendations broken into three key categories: Customer Communications, Operations and Capital Improvements.
The first major recommendation put forth by the task force is a Platform Screen Doors pilot program at three subway stations: Times Sq , 3 Av and Sutphin Blvd-Archer Av-JFK . The three stations selected represent a mix of different platform configurations that serve a high volume of riders.
In addition to the platform screen doors, the task force recommends piloting new Track Intrusion Detection Systems using advanced technology to alert train operators when people or objects enter tracks. To reduce track intrusions in subway tunnels, the Authority will also look to expand Laser Intrusion Detection Systems to secure critical tunnels.
The Platform Screen Door pilot announcement follows an extensive survey of all 472 subway stations that found significant constraints that would prevent a systemwide roll-out of platform screen doors. The survey showed just 41 of 472 stations—approximately 8 percent of the subway system — can be retrofitted with platform screen doors today, and another 87 would be feasible after train cars have been standardized through 2033.
For the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, the task force recommended securing end of platform areas and railroad’s rights-of-way by adding and repairing fencing and signage. In addition, live video from forward-facing cameras will provide a new way to warn train operators of obstructions.
The MTA will work with State and City partners to enhance mental health outreach and platform safety. In collaboration with New York State Office of Mental Health Services’ Safety Options Support (SOS) teams, there will be a more targeted approach to clear encampments within the system, helping to prevent people from entering the tracks. Additional NYPD deployments announced as part of the Subway Safety Plan will address circumstances that may lead to riders on the tracks, and the MTA has identified priority stations where intrusions are most prevalent to the NYPD, so officers can be surged to those platforms.
To improve incident response, the MTA is deploying video analytics to better use existing platform CCTV cameras to monitor and intervene in dangerous behavior at stations. Additionally, the MTA will explore installing front-facing cameras on subway trains for real-time monitoring. The Authority is working with the Transit Tech Lab, an initiative of the Partnership for New York City, to conduct a proof-of-concept to assess effectiveness of front-facing cameras on the line with results expected by this spring.
The MTA will create a layered messaging campaign warning customers of the dangers of being on the tracks and educating riders on the importance of not standing close to the platform edge, taking advantage of video screens across the subway system.
The Authority will partner with local and national experts, including those at NYU’s Department of Psychiatry, to improve suicide prevention messaging in order to create new deterrents to voluntary track intrusions.