Friday, July 08, 2005

Let Me Out!

The MTA, the agency that runs buses, subways and trains in the New York City area, is proposing a series of new regulations and policies, among which is the permanent locking of doors between subway cars for the purpose of safety. It's true that several people have died or been injured in unfortunate incidents while changing or riding between cars while the subway was in motion.

As residents of New York know, sometimes you find yourself on a car without air conditioning or that has some unfortunate, unbearable smell. And other times you just get the sense that you'd be safer in a different car.

On most trains, it's only a minute or two between stops. However, I ride the A express train to work and back every day, which makes a nonstop, 10-minute journey between Columbus Circle and 125th Street.

A letter to the editor in today's New York Times illustrates the well-intentioned but shortsighted folly of the new policy:

It is to be hoped that the London bombings will convince the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York that locking subway car doors, which is done on many trains, is a tragedy waiting to happen.

It is unconscionable that officials would proceed with a policy that traps people inside subway cars in light of what has happened in London. They must unlock all the doors on all subway lines now!

People must be able to get out of the cars in an emergency. Are you listening, Peter Kalikow and Katherine Lapp?

The solution to safety is not to limit passengers' options, but rather to clearly post signage on the door emphasizing that changing cars while the train is in motion is extremely dangerous and should only be done in emergencies.


Matthew said...

So true! They really need to leave the connecting doors open. It's good for fascilitating evacuation, and it's convenient.

Anthony said...

I'd've thought it was only logical to keep the connecting doors unlocked. Are you really trying to tell me there aren't already safety notices on them warning of the dangers?

Andy said...

There are notices on the door, but they're not very intimidating. You know, a stick figure walking between cars with an X over it. And most of the notices that warn of danger are in fact posted on permanently locked doors.

How about, "The MTA advises against traveling between cars while the subway is in motion except in cases of dire emergency. Previous attempts have resulted in severe injury and death."

Anthony said...

Hmm ... may I suggest you cut the second sentence?

Andy said...

Tony, obviously you are unfamiliar with the litigious nature of American culture. This is the country where coffee cups come with the disclaimer, "Warning! The beverage you are about to enjoy may be extremely hot!" I am NOT making that up. Seriously, in America what may seem like common sense has to be spelled out for everyone in big, bold text or someone will get sued.

Anthony said...

We get coffee cups like that too - though I'd like to hope the one about microwave operation manuals being required to recommend against their use for warming your pet dog is an urban legend.

It just struck me as a bit blunt coming from a such a liberal!

Jess said...

Andy, you're right on the mark. Those doors need to stay unlocked. If people are dumb enough to walk between the cars, so be it. We might need those doors for an evacuation.

Andy said...

It just struck me as a bit blunt coming from a such a liberal!

It's true, we do like to beat around the George W. Bush.