The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has initiated a significant safety pilot program by installing platform barriers at the 1 subway station at 191st Street in Washington Heights, Manhattan. This move is part of a broader effort to enhance subway safety, particularly in preventing falls and pushes onto the tracks.
The 191st Street Station, chosen as the first of four subway stations for this pilot, represents a critical step in the MTA’s commitment to improving passenger safety. MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber emphasized the importance of finding creative ways to improve both the feeling and reality of safety in the subway system. He said, “It’s still in an experimental phase, and we will be watching carefully to determine if the barriers are effective at deterring track intrusions without interfering with passenger circulation.”
This initiative comes in response to a concerning rise in subway track incidents, including falls and pushes, which the MTA reported increased by 20% from 2019 to 2021, even as ridership declined during the pandemic. Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine applauded the MTA for this pilot, recognizing it as a quick and practical way to add protection to the subway platform.
The barriers, strategically placed on the subway platform edge adjacent to the yellow warning strip, are designed to avoid obstructing subway car doors as they open for passengers. The installation process saw the uptown platform barriers completed on Friday, January 19th, followed by the downtown platform barriers on Saturday, January 20th.
Longtime Transportation Engineer Gridlock Sam Schwartz praised the move, highlighting its potential to significantly increase subway passenger safety. Commuters at the 191st Street station have also expressed hope that the subway barriers will make their travels safer, with many acknowledging the need for such measures in light of recent safety concerns.
Funded using existing maintenance resources and in-house labor and materials, the MTA’s effort reflects a proactive approach to addressing safety concerns in one of the world’s busiest subway systems. The success of this pilot program at the 191st Street station could pave the way for similar installations across the city, marking a new era in subway safety measures.
As the MTA continues to prioritize passenger safety, the installation of subway platform barriers at the 191st Street station is a testament to the agency’s commitment to innovative solutions in the face of evolving challenges.