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MTA Investigating Methods To Detect People On Tracks

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is studying ways to add sensors that would detect anyone who gets onto the tracks, and a Queens councilman wants the agency to fast-track its efforts. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

The transit workers' union wants subway riders to stand back, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has put up safety warnings in stations and on trains.

But Queens Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. thinks track intrusion technology is the way to go if fewer people are to get smacked by subway trains.

"This would alert the driver of the train to the fact that something is on those tracks and slow them down or stop that before someone gets hit or killed," Vallone said.

The MTA plans to test suitable track intrusion programs by the end of the year, with the goal of cutting back on the number of people who come into the path of trains. So far this year, 77 people have been hit, resulting in 29 deaths. In 2012, 141 people were hit by trains, with 55 fatalities.

Vallone believes the high-profile deaths of subway riders who were pushed off platforms, tried to run across tracks or chased smartphones onto the tracks show the need for such a system.

"These last few incidents have really brought attention to the fact that there's something out there now that we can do about it," he said. "Let's take a look at it."

The MTA says it's already on the case, having spoken to several vendors about track intrusion technologies.

Straphangers who spoke with NY1 said their fellow commuters simply need to use their smarts before getting too close to the edge of the platform. That means no leaning to get a peek at an oncoming train.

"Stay away from the tracks," said one.

And don't even think about trying to grab a smartphone that slips out of your hands.

"It doesn't make sense to me," said a second. "They're not that expensive, and my life is worth more."

The track safety measures being looked at by the MTA aren't cheap, but the agency hopes to get a clearer read on its options once it develops a pilot program.

Got A Transit Tip?

Do you have a news tip or story idea about the city's transit systems? Send an email to NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez.

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