9 people hit or killed by subways in 6-day spate of injuries
Two people survived apparent suicide jumps in front of subways Monday, capping off a six-day spate of incidents during which nine people were killed or injured on the tracks.
An unidentified manjumped in front of a Manhattan-bound E train at the Northern Boulevard station in Woodside around 5:30 a.m. Monday, officials said. He was in serious condition at Elmhurst Hospital at press time.
Hours later, a woman leapt to the tracks before a downtown No. 1 train at the 157th Street station, and she was taken to Harlem Hospital in critical condition, officials said.
Subway deaths have come under heavy scrutiny this year, with 13 deaths in 29 incidents in 2013. In response, the MTA has increased an ad campaign imploring straphangers to stay away from platform edges, which some say is really all that can be done in the short-term.
"The thing they can do in the very short run, they're doing, which is try to get the word out to the public," said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney of the Straphangers Campaign. "That isn't enough, but it's pretty quick turn-around for them. It's not like the solutions here are easy or cheap."
Russianoff added: "In the past, people in transit would say it's very unfortunate, but it's a reality of life. Now they're saying, maybe there's something we can do to reduce the carnage."
In addition to an increased public awareness campaign, the MTA is looking at pilot programs to experiment with glass barriers on platforms and an intrusion detection system, which would alert train operators of objects on the tracks. Neither program has a solid timetable.
Still, some think the MTA should be doing more.
"They believe the proper response is simply to make repeat announcements to stand away from the edge of the platform, but it's not working," said Steve Downs, chair of the TWU Local 100's Train Operators Division.
"It's clear from this last week that that's not working," Downs said.
The union wants the MTA to force train operators to enter stations more slowly, which they say will help cut down on fatalities.
MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said the agency has "proven through computer modeling ... that slowing down trains pulling into station would create enormous overcrowding."
"The best advice for anybody in the city subway system is to stay away from the platform edge," Lisberg said.
"That is the best way to make that you don't get injured or killed in the subway system," he said, adding that "the statistics show that the number of subway injuries and deaths over the years has remained remarkably constant even as ridership has grown."
According to the MTA, in 2012, 38% of incidents were accidents; 23% were people who went on the tracks intentionally (to pick up items or for other reasons); 23% were alleged or attempted suicides; 6% were straphangers peering over the edge of the platform to watch for the train; 4% were pushed on to the tracks or into a train; 3% fell because of a medical condition; and 2% fell between cars.
By the numbers:
Thirteen people have been killed by subway trainss out of 29 incidents this year. Here are the total subway incidents and deaths during the last 12 years:
YEAR INCIDENTS DEATHS 2012 141 55 2011 146 47 2010 127 51 2009 136 49 2008 107 34 2007 110 55 2006 109 38 2005 151 44 2004 158 35 2003 188 37 2002 136 46 2001 110 31