Mayhem at Penn Station.

Penn Station and Its Myriad Problems

False alarm, but very real ensuing mayhem at Penn Station earlier this month, when a “gunshot-like” sound caused widespread panic and evacuation. A homeless man who, according to witnesses and authorities, was causing a disturbance, was tasered by Amtrak police. The commotion caused by the incident caused Penn Station commuters to panic, many running for the exits, leaving clothes and luggage behind. According to some who were on-scene, the notion that a public shooting was taking place propagated quickly; a fast-spreading infection of fear permeated the entirety of the underground complex.

Beyond the homeless man who incited the action, two others were arrested for disobedience during the event.

Fortunately, there was no active shooter. There was no terrorist situation. A sign of the times- it’s possible that high-profile events that’ve occurred over the past few years have given some New Yorkers a hair trigger when it comes to panicking.

However, a balance must be reached. While it’s always better to be safe than sorry, an unnecessary panic can, itself, become a hazard. The abrupt, unorganized fleeing of a scene might create a stampede situation, wherein commuters could trip, fall, or be trampled. In high-tension situations such as these, it is always best to cede to the advice of local police and safety officials.

A Lesser Type of Mayhem

When Penn Station isn’t experiencing traumatic incidents, such as the one described above, there are other, lesser problems to address. In early April, a New Jersey Transit derailment caused mass delays and cancellations across all rail services. How massive were these “mass” delays? According to the New York Times, 8 of the station’s 21 rails remained inoperative the day after the track flaws were first discovered. The station wasn’t anticipated to be restored to full service until the following Friday.

Evidently, the old real estate saw applied to this scenario: “location, location, location.” It wasn’t so much the extent of the damage to the rails so much as the location of the malfunction. A crucial “switch point” was affected by the damage, and this piece of machinery was integral to the successful operation of many different rail lines. Hence, the wide-ranging delays across several lines and the disruption’s affecting of multiple branches.

The investigative teams tasked with sourcing the cause of these track flaws have determined that the damage was caused, likely, by the condition of the tracks themselves and not human error or some correlating mechanical malfunction.

 Staying Safe at the Train Station

In this article, we took a close look at how to stay safe in NYC subway stations. Much of the same advice applies, but remember: even though trains aren’t pulling into and out of station at the same volume and frequency as subways, it’s still of paramount importance to keep clear of the tracks at all times. In fact, the LIRR recently began a “Be TrainSmart” campaign whose slogans serve as important safety advice for all commuters:

  • Watch the Gap: The godfather of train-related rules. Always mind the gap!
  • Let Them Exit First: Before entering a train, let those who wish to exit get off first.
  • Hold Your Child’s Hand: Children’s stride-lengths are small- make sure you help them safely traverse the gap.
  • Plan Ahead to Exit: Make your way to the exit doors before your stop to avoid a rushed situation when your train arrives at your destination station.
  • Watch Your Step: Not just over the gap, but on escalators, stairs and in surrounding areas as well.
  • Wait Behind the Gate: When you’re street-side at an outdoor train station, make sure to wait patiently behind the crossing gates. Do not attempt to duck under them before they raise.
  • Step Over the Gap: A corollary to the first rule; make sure to take an exaggeratedly large step over the gap to prevent your foot getting stuck between the train and the station platform.

Contact Us

If you live in the tristate area, train stations are doubtlessly a part of, if not your daily, then your weekly or monthly life. Avoiding train stations altogether is obviously not a viable solution, so, what can you do? In addition to the safety tips listed above, make sure that you stay alert, adhere to all safety signage, and call for help when there is trouble! In this way, you can help keep yourself and others safe. If a train accident does occur, you will need the help of New York’s premier accident law firm: Kaplan Lawyers PC. Our compassionate and experienced team of attorneys are ready and eager to assist you during your time of need. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC. Our consultations are a free and easy way to get started, so contact us today.