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MTA Pushes Back Against Installing Doors On Subway Platforms, Says System's Age Makes It Feasible At Limited Number Of Stations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is being called upon to install subway platform screen doors to prevent people from falling or being pushed on to the tracks.

But, as CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Thursday, the head of the agency says station and car irregularities make it feasible in only a handful of stations.

"Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Sydney, Santiago, Chile; Hong Kong, Delhi, Rome, Paris," Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, referring to some of the places where platform screen doors have been installed in mass transit systems to prevent track injuries. "New York City is way behind. This is not a new technology."

READ MOREExclusive: MTA CEO Janno Lieber Says Top Priority Is 'Making A Safer Environment For Our Riders'

Levine and a gaggle of politicians are trying to pressure the MTA to spend the billions of dollars it would take to install platform doors, after 40-year-old Upper West Side businesswoman Michelle Go was pushed to her death by a homeless man with a history of mental illness.

"Honestly, we need solutions now," MTA Acting Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said.

Subway platform screen doors
(Photo: Billy Florian Public Transport)

Lieber told Kramer in an exclusive interview that the MTA has been studying the idea of platform doors for years. It did a 3,000-page study and it found that, "Right now, there are probably only 40 station where we could do it."

That's out of 472 stations.

According to the report, there are many reasons for this, including platform width, misalignment, cars with multiple door opening positions, and gaps between platform edges and trains.

The Union Square station is one of the many places in the transit system where it would be difficult, if not impossible, to install doors. The train curves around and the reason there are signs that say "Stand clear of the moving platform" is because the platform has to move out to the train where it curves, Kramer reported.

READ MOREPolice: Suspect Wanted For Pushing 62-Year-Old Man Onto Subway Tracks In Manhattan

Civil engineer Buzz Paaswell said the idea is good, but would be difficult to carry out.

"New York is a very old system. It's got old stations. They have curves in it. They have columns every place. They have platforms that aren't even, and what you need, if you think about it, your constructing a flat screen that's initiated automatically," Paaswell said.

During a radio interview, Lieber slammed Levine, who until last month was chair of the City Council Health Committee dealing with mental health issues.

"What was going on when they spent billions of dollars on mental health that left us with the condition we're seeing in the system?" Lieber said.

READ MOREUnion Head Says Recent Subway Push Incidents Are 'Traumatizing' For Conductors

Kramer asked riders what would make them feel safer.

"More police, more police available," said Lamar Denc of Bedford-Stuyvesant, adding when asked about the idea of installing doors on the tracks, "Installing doors on the tracks? That may help, but it also may slow down things when it comes to the trains."

"More security," another rider said.

"They could put police on the tracks," a person said.

"More surveillance and cops," another added.

READ MOREExclusive: Subway Push Victim Lenny Javier Says 'I Never Thought It Would Happen To Me'; Suspect Anthonia Egegbara Arrested

And when Kramer rode the trains with Lieber he told her the short-term solution is cops keeping the mentally ill off platforms.

Experts say installing platform doors would not only be difficult, it would cost billions, and it would force the MTA to weigh a host of priorities.

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