Subway Train in New York at Sunset

NYC May Experiment with New Subway Design

New York City’s transit system, the MTA, which services Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, is one of the most popular and comprehensive transit systems in the world. With ridership at an all-time high, it’s also statistically the busiest commuter transit system in the western world, and the 8th busiest subway system overall. In fact, the NYC subway system accommodates approximately 1.75 billion riders per year.

Getting from your home and to your destination via subway in New York City is rarely impossible, thanks in part to the MTA’s sprawling, inter-borough reach. However, as annual ridership climbs, it’s also a means of transportation that is becoming progressively more congested. As populations in Queens and Brooklyn both rise precipitously, so too does the number of people utilizing the subway. In 2014, each weekday saw about five-and-a-half million riders- a steep incline in ridership from years past.

As both subway cars and subway platforms become more crowded, they likewise become progressively more dangerous for commuters. With that in mind, the MTA has brainstormed ideas of how to reduce overcrowding and increase safety.

One possible idea is the implementation of an “open gangway” style subway. Like their above-ground brethren the articulated bus, open gangway style subways would not have closing, latched doors in between individual cars. Instead, like a long, continuous hallway, it would feature an open interchange where the double set of doors are currently featured.

The open gangway style of design offers a twofold advantage over current models. First, a switch to open gangways would result in an immediate boost in actual, physical space within the cars; an estimated increase of 10%, according to engineers connected to the project. Secondly, this new structural system would allow for easier redistribution of riders, which would prevent overcrowding in any one, specific spot. Facilitating an easier flow of traffic throughout the length of the entire train, the open gangway promises riders a nicer, more comfortable ride.

As an added bonus, police suspect that illicit or dangerous behavior would be harder to conceal in this new open format. While this is purely speculative at this point, there seems to be no discernible downsides to experimenting with open gangways.

Current Subway Safety

No one proposing open gangways is suggesting that the switch will immediately eliminate all subway-related accidents. However, as these new trains are implemented, NYC and MTA officials will be able to test results and react accordingly. These officials envision a slow roll out, with small numbers of subways receiving interior facelifts initially to gauge results, and more renovations occurring as the city sees fit. In the meantime, it’s important that our readers stay as safe as possible using the system that currently stands. What follows are some tips that you can take to help keep yourself out of harm’s way as you ride on NYC subways:

  • If you’ve ever bought a Metro Card, you’re familiar with the following warning: Watch the Gap. The space in between subway cars and subway platforms can be treacherous, and you’re liable to slip through this crack if you’re not careful. Always be alert as you transition between platform and train.
  • If you drop something on the tracks: Let it Go. No personal item is worth risking your life over. If you attempt to descend onto the tracks, you not only risk electrocution by the third rail, you also put yourself directly in the path of oncoming trains. Subways move with deceptive speed and, sometimes, arrive without warning. If you drop something onto the tracks, notify a police officer or MTA employee.
  • If you miss the train: Wait for the Next One. Too often, people try to jam themselves into the closing doors, which could result in injury. “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” isn’t only a warning to keep trains on schedule, it’s also a declaration repeated with your safety in mind. The beauty of the NYC subway system is that it runs continuously; there will always be another train.
  • Last but not least: Stay Mindful. The subway can be a scary place. Entering the fray of a large crowd always means the possibility of being injured. Pickpockets and other wrongdoers have been known to lurk underground. By staying aware of your surroundings, you can help prevent injuries or other misfortunes from occurring.

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