Its hard not to make the connection between mass shootings and random people being pushed to their deaths on subway platforms. Tonight in New York a second person within the past month was pushed to his death while waiting for a train. This type of violence is similar to mass gun violence as both are random acts of violence that occur in everyday life. Both are likely caused by individuals with some degree of mental disturbance who take advantage of a widely available form of infliction. I think most responsible gun owners would agree that it is far too easy to get a gun. Transit advocates would also likely agree that it is extremely easy to be pushed or to fall on to subway tracks. Regulation to reduce gun violence includes limiting the type of guns available to individuals and to requiring substantial training, background checks, and waiting periods while the available “regulation” for subway or train platforms is to install barriers between the tracks and the platform that only allow access to the tracks/train when the the train has arrived and stopped. While money spent on the regulation of gun violence would probably be a good investment based on how frequently people are harmed by guns, money spent on the regulation of “subway violence” would probably be a poor investment.
After the death of a man a few weeks ago, New York rejected the idea of putting barriers up on subways due to the cost. The barriers, which Japan (among other several other Asian countries) deploys , are clear walls placed between the platforms and the tracks that have designated doors that align with the train doors and only open once the train has arrived and come to a stop. Originally I questioned how quickly New York could reject the barriers when installing them would completely prevent such deaths, but recently I have decided rejection is the best idea. Subways in Japan are notoriously crowded and I can only imagine the platforms themselves are also extremely crowded. This allows for the possibility of being accidentally pushed onto the tracks much more likely than in sparsely populated platforms. Though New York is very crowded it is nothing like Tokyo. Perhaps New York could install barriers in the stations that are so crowded that its impossible to not stand directly next to the tracks, but otherwise riders should just not stand directly next to the tracks! During off-hours in the DC Metro people routinely stand right up on the tracks while waiting for a train even though the platform is not crowded at all. This obviously puts you at risk for falling, being pushed, or being accidentally nudged on to the tracks. Unless the platform is so crowded that you have no other choice but to stand right next to the tracks, do it at your own risk.
New York and other cities should spend the money on expanding and improving service, not installing safety features when the same result can be achieved with a little common sense. Though it is disturbing to think a random person would push you to your death while waiting for a train, it is unlike gun violence because it can easily be avoided and rarely happens. The best solution is to just not stand right next to the tracks!
Categories: Diatribes, Infrastructure
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