MTA to Test Motion Sensors, Lasers in Effort to Curb Track Deaths

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013  |  Updated 10:57 PM EDT
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The MTA is taking new steps to beef up safety on subway platforms.  Andrew Siff reports.

The MTA is taking new steps to beef up safety on subway platforms. Andrew Siff reports.

The MTA plans to test several different forms of technology that would alert train conductors to a person on the tracks in an effort to curb a rise in track-related deaths, according to a published report.

Nearly 150 straphangers have been hit by subway trains this year, and more than 50 of those people have died, reports the Daily News. In 2012, 55 people were hit and killed by subway trains, the highest number since 2001.

The MTA plans to test a variety of high-tech systems, including motion sensors, thermal imaging cameras, closed-circuit cameras and radio frequencies transmitted from just below the platform edge, to alert conductors to a person on the tracks.

Each system would activate a signal along the tracks to warn conductors about an "intruder," and the conductor would be able to apply the brakes in time to avoid hitting the person.

 
Each system would also transit a live video feed to the Rail Control Center. 
 
The MTA said the systems, if implemented, would not be able to prevent deaths in cases where a person jumps, falls or is pushed onto the tracks as the train pulls into the station, but they would ensure that if there is time for brakes to be applied, the conductor would have enough notice to do so.
 
The MTA plans to test the pilot programs at an undisclosed location. 
 
"Given the heightened concern regarding customers being struck by trains, we're exploring new platform safety technologies that we hope will prevent these events in the future," MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told the Daily News. "It is paramount that we thoroughly test these systems to see if they will work in our unique subway environment."
 
Similar technology has been used in subway systems in other countries, including Taiwan. 

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