Eddie Morrison: I’m Eddie Morrison and you’re listening to a Customer Safety podcast on TransitTrax, New York City Transit’s podcast service.
The MTA’S main goal is to get its customers to their destinations safely. But there has been a rise in individuals being struck by trains. Jim Wincek is the director of Hazard Assessment.
Jim Wincek: A customer could be struck by a train as a result of having moved too close to the platform edge. They lean out into the path of the train and the train strikes them. In other instances, the customer could be walking on the platform, slip, trip, and fall into the side of a moving train as it moves through the station.
In 2011, 146 customers were struck by trains. Of those, 47 individuals died as a result of their injuries.
Eddie Morrison: There are many unfortunate ways riders can find themselves on the roadbed, whether it be deliberately or by accident.
Jim Wincek: Some customers go onto the tracks intentionally to retrieve lost property or to cross from one side of the track to the other. In other instances, customers will be walking on the platform, slip, trip, and fall off the platform edge. In still other instances, a customer might be on the platform and another customer bumps into them or pushes them and they fall off into the track. And finally, there are instances where we’ve had medical conditions that result in a customer having become dizzy or unconscious and they collapse from the platform onto the tracks.
Eddie Morrison: The tracks and trains can be a deadly combination if you stand too close to the platform. Never try to retrieve a fallen item by yourself.
Jim Wincek: If you drop something onto the right of way, seek the assistance of a Transit Authority employee, a police officer, or approach the Customer Assistance intercom.
Eddie Morrison: And there are several reasons why you should let the professionals get your items for you as NYC Transit Superintendent John Brown explains.
John Brown: We have 600 volts of electricity running through the third rail. Also, if you notice when you’re standing on the platform, the train is huge. You go down to the tracks, it’s double the size. People don’t realize how high it is from the track bed to the platform edge. And people, if you jump down there, people think they can jump right up and they can’t. They don’t make it.
Eddie Morrison: Not only is going down to the tracks dangerous, but there are also legal ramifications. Owen Monaghan is the Assistant Chief of the NYPD Transit Bureau.
Assistant Chief Owen Monaghan: Going onto the track area is illegal. You can be issued a summons and fined a penalty of $50.
Eddie Morrison: And to make sure you don’t risk your life or your money, New York City Transit has a team of professionals who will go down on the track and retrieve your personal belongings. A two-man crew is sent to the location.
John Brown: What we’ll do is we’ll send up a guy. He’ll go out and put up flags. The other guy, once the flag man set up that everything we know that’s safe, he’ll call Control and let them know that we’re going to go out there and retrieve the property.
Eddie Morrison: Once the team has permission to enter onto the track to retrieve the lost item, they take a long pole with a grabber attachment and simply pick up your item.
John Brown: We find all kinds of things, cell phones, iPhones. We’ve found computers. You know people drop their pocket books, wallets, everything, from footballs all the way up. All kinds of things.
Eddie Morrison: However, none of these things can compare to the safety of the customers.
Assistant Chief Owen Monaghan: I have to say that no personal item dropped onto the track area is worth the risk of human life or injury. It’s as simple as that.
Eddie Morrison: So in review:
Do not run or horse around on the platform.
Do not attempt to get on or off a train from between cars.
And, do not stand at the platform edge looking for the next train.
Do stand at least two feet behind the platform edge so if you are pushed, you have room to catch your balance.
If you feel sick, back away from the edge of the platform. And always be aware of your surroundings.
For TransitTrax, I’m Eddie Morrison. Thanks for listening and thanks for riding with New York City Transit.