By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Most subway riders would like the train to arrive faster so that they can get to their destination quicker. But Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) is taking the opposite approach. The view Gentile is expressing these days is similar to the lyrics of an old Paul Simon song, “Slow down, you move too fast.”
Gentile said he wants New York City Transit to instruct the motormen driving trains to slow down when entering subway stations.
It will save lives, according to the councilman.
Gentile is making his suggestion in the wake of recent incidents in which people have been pushed into the path of an oncoming subway train.
“If new rules were implemented requiring trains to enter stations at a slower speed, then it would give the train a better chance to stop in time if someone is on the tracks or give that person a better chance to get off the tracks, into an alcove, or run to the opposite end of the track into the mouth of tunnel away from the train,” Gentile said.
Many elected officials and civic leaders have suggested installing barriers in front of subway tracks as a way to combat the danger.
Gentile said his suggestion is much more cost effective and can be implemented system-wide much more quickly than erecting barriers.
The councilman has written a letter to NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast to outline his suggestion.
“This change can be instituted quickly and at minimum cost to the transit system,” Gentile said.
While Gentile acknowledged that it might lengthen the time comuters have to wait to board the train, he said he believes the trade-off is worth it if the entire system could be made safer for everyone.
“Let’s make no mistake about it; we still must work in the long term to address the mental health issues of the individuals involved in these shoving incidents. Yet, in the short term, this can be an immediate response to a growing safety issue,” he said.
In 2011, 147 people were hit by a New York City subway – 15 percent more than 2010 – and 50 of those incidents were fatal, Gentile said.
On Dec. 3, a 58-year-old man, was pushed to the tracks of the 49th Street R train station in midtown. The New York Times reported that witnesses saw the victim arguing with the suspect a few minutes before the deadly incident.
Less than a month later, a second fatal pushing incident took place on a New York City subway platform, this time in Queens. CNN reported that a woman who was mumbling to herself shoved a man to his death in front of an oncoming No. 7 train at the 40th Street station.