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Solutions for the Subway

HOST INTRO: Two incidents on the subway this week have many straphangers considering their safety. Tuesday, a man was dragged by a 7 train and killed. Yesterday, a beam fell from a platform underneath the 7 train’s tracks and smashed into a car windshield. Now, lawmakers and commuters alike are considering what can be done to improve the subway. Maggie Green reports.

GREEN 1: John Mantikas works in Woodside, Queens. He used to take the 7 train to work every day, until yeseterday.

MANTIKAS 1 I ran out, and I was like, do you need me to call an ambulance, do you need me to call an ambulance, and he was like no, I’m OK, I’m OK.

GREEN 2: Mantikas was sitting in the paint shop where he works when he saw a driver just miss getting hit by a falling wooden beam. An MTA spokesperson says the agency is taking yesterday’s incident seriously and is conducting a full investigation. But that accident, combined with a death on the 7 train’s tracks in Grand Central Station, are making Mantikas reconsider his morning route.

MANTIKAS 2 And I was like, I’m not taking the 7 line anymore so I started taking the railroad actually.

GREEN 3: State Senator Jessica Ramos says the state needs to spend more money to make improvements for the MTA. Ramos says one of the solutions to the MTA’s woes is congestion pricing: a tax on all vehicles coming into an area with heavy traffic, like Midtown.

RAMOS 1 We need to make sure that the funds are secured and can only be used for the MTA. And from there, I think we have a role to play as straphangers to be real voices for the upgrades that we want to see.

GREEN 4: City Councilmember Mark Levine agrees that congestion pricing would help diffuse the cost of updating New York City’s subway system. But he says it may not be enough for what he estimates is a 40 BILLION dollar job. He says the city council may increase its contribution to the MTA’s pot because safety improvements long overdue.

LEVINE 1 We need to do what’s being done in cities all over the world which is protect passengers from falling onto the train tracks by erecting glass partitions, sliding doors.

GREEN 5: Levine says glass doors would prevent trash from falling onto tracks and catching fire, which he says is the main cause of delays in the tunnels. And doors would also prevent phones from falling to the tracks, which means fewer people would jump in after them and risk getting injured. Levine says he knows the upgrade would be expensive. But other major cities across the world have already made these improvements, and New York City needs to catch up.

LEVINE 2 London’s subway is older than ours and they’ve started to do this. The Paris system is comparable and has kind of all the same challenges of working in a dense urban environment, they’ve started to do this.

GREEN 6: And Mantikas, who tried to help the driver involved in yesterday’s crash, says there’s another option for alleviating costs: turning to commuters.

MANTIKAS 3 If they need to raise the prices to make it safe and clean again, by all means, I’m willing to pay the price for a safer MTA.

GREEN 7: In the meantime, commuters, stay behind the yellow line and stand clear of the closing doors.

Maggie Green, Columbia Radio News.


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