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Transit Union Urging Subway Operators To Slow Down

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Subway operators are being urged to slow down as they enter stations in the wake of two recent incidents where riders were pushed in front of oncoming trains.

Fliers were distributed last week by the Transport Workers Union Local 100 asking train operators to "enter every station as if there is a pair of yellow lanterns at the entrance.''

Last month, two people were killed in separate incidents, where the victims were pushed onto the tracks by seemingly random attackers.

Commuters are more anxious than ever, but many said they are still not convinced that slowing down the system is the answer.

"I think it'll slow the whole thing down. There are a lot of people waiting here now," commuter Bob Epstein told CBS 2's Kathryn Brown.

"I have noticed, especially at our station, which is West 116th Street, that they're not speeding in," commuter Bernadette Hageman told CBS 2's Brown.

Contract talks between the union and Metropolitan Transportation Authority are looming and a jam in the system gives transit workers some leverage, Brown reported.

But union leaders insist this is about safety, not job security.

"People are being traumatized. People are being injured," TWU Local 100 president Kevin Harrington told Brown. "It doesn't have anything to do with the contract. It has to do with the fact that the efforts that the transit authority made failed."

The MTA said it fears the union's subway slowdown could create more danger.

"Some of the actions they are recommending, if implemented, would result in even more hazardous conditions due to overcrowding on platforms and onboard trains," the agency said in a statement. "There are other, more effective ways of making the system safer than slowing down train service and we are committed to working towards them."

The MTA also said any effort to comply with a speed change "may be considered a job action,'' telling the union to "cease posting these unauthorized notices.''

In the flier, union leaders they direct drivers to blame any time lost on trying to prevent accidents.

According to the union, more than a 150 people were hit by trains last -- roughly three a week.

The latest incident happened Tuesday evening, when one person was killed and another injured after apparently falling onto the tracks in front of an oncoming 6 train at the 125th Street station.

Another incident occurred around 3 a.m. Tuesday when a man fell onto the E train tracks on Lexington Avenue and 51st. Police said it appears the victim lost his footing and was hit by the train.

The MTA has said there was no indication that the December pushing deaths were caused by excessive speed.

The MTA also already ruled out safety gates on subway platforms, saying the project would be too costly.

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