Subway union says MTA must do more to stop subway deaths
With seven people killed by trains this year, Transport Workers Union Local 100 slammed the MTA on Thursday at a City Council hearing on safety, saying that the agency isn't doing everything it can to save the lives of straphangers
"There's a crisis here that we believe has gone unrecognized and not given proper attention by the MTA," said TWU Local 100 president John Samuelson.
"The folks on the MTA board ... they're not riding the system every day," he said. "They need to get in touch with what it's like to be a worker in the City of New York [and] use the system," he said.
The hearing was called by City Council Transportation Committee chairman James Vacca to address the spate of subway deaths since December. Last year 55 people were killed on the tracks, the most since 2007.
The union pushed a three-point plan to prevent subway deaths: slow down trains as they enter stations, put MTA agents on crowded platforms and build emergency power shut-offs to tracks in station booths. Union members on Thursday handed out faux MetroCards at three stations in the city with blood stains and the Grim Reaper to advertise its plan.
The MTA mostly shot down the plans, particularly slowing down trains, saying it would create a major problem of overcrowding on platforms, as well as throw off schedules across the system.
"Lines that are already crowded would be more crowded," said MTA senior vice president for subways Carmen Bianco.
"The negative effects of slowing trains as they enter stations renders this option infeasible," he said, adding that the average rider's commute would increase by 41/2 minutes if the MTA adopted the strategy.
Bianco repeatedly said the agency is focusing on a public awareness campaign to get commuters not to stand near the edge of the platform. He also outlined the agency's plans for a pilot program to test barriers, as well as installing help point kiosks and testing an intrusions detection system.