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New York City to test platform barriers at 3 stations amid calls for subway safety

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(NEW YORK) — New York City will pilot a program to install platform barriers at three subway stations, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials announced Wednesday, a month after a woman died when a stranger pushed her in front of an oncoming train.

The doors, which will create a barrier between the platform and track to prevent people from falling onto the tracks, will be installed at the Times Square station along the 7 line, the Third Avenue station on the L and the Sutphin Boulevard-JFK station stop on the E, MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said on NY1’s “Mornings On 1” Wednesday.

“It’s going to take a while and we’re going to have to put the money together, which is a little complicated,” Lieber told NY1. “But our goal is to try out these technologies at different places in the system, including three stations, trying out platform doors.”

The pilot program is expected to cost more than $100 million, with the doors likely to be installed at the three locations in 2024, the MTA said. The project is scheduled to be discussed at Thursday’s MTA board meeting.

The announcement comes amid safety concerns in the nation’s largest public transit system. On Jan. 15, Michelle Go, 40, died after she was shoved in front of an oncoming train on the N/Q/R/W line inside the Times Square-42nd Street subway station in what police said was an unprovoked attack.

Following Go’s death, several city officials, including Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, called on the MTA to install the platform barriers, which are used in transit systems in cities including Paris, London and Hong Kong, as well as along the John F. Kennedy International Airport AirTrain.

Previously, the MTA had said installing platform barriers would be prohibitively expensive and complicated due to the age of the subway system. Last month, the agency released a 3,000-page report from 2020 that found that most of the city’s 472 stations can’t accommodate the protective barriers and that it would cost about $7 billion to install them at the 128 stations that could.

In recent weeks, though, Lieber said the MTA was revisiting the issue. On Wednesday, he said the MTA identified the three stations in the pilot as locations “where the engineering does work.”

Levine called the pilot program a “huge win for safety & efficiency.”

“Truly a milestone in the history of NYC’s subways. Congrats to all who fought for this,” he said on Twitter.

From January 2021 to July 2021, 37 people died after getting struck by a train, according to the MTA.

In 2021, 30 people were pushed onto the tracks, according to the New York Police Department’s public information office. So far this year, as of Jan. 23, five people have been pushed onto the tracks, the NYPD said. A further breakdown of injuries or fatalities was not available.

Among other safety measures, the MTA is looking at piloting new technologies, including thermal sensors and lasers, that would detect when someone has fallen onto the tracks, Lieber said.

The city also recently launched a subway safety plan in response to a spike in crime that involves sending more police, mental health clinicians and social service outreach workers into the subways.

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