Subway workers push for passenger safety

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With seven people killed by trains so far this year, Transport Workers Union Local 100 slammed the MTA Thursday at a City Council hearing, accusing the agency of not doing all it can to save the lives of straphangers.

"There's a crisis here that we believe has gone unrecognized and not given proper attention by the MTA," said TWU Local 100 president John Samuelson.

"The folks on the MTA board . . . they're not riding the system every day," he said. "They need to get in touch with what it's like to be a worker in the city of New York [and] use the system."

The hearing was called by Transportation Committee chairman James Vacca to address a spate of subway deaths since December. Last year, 55 people were killed on the tracks, the most since 2007.

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The union pushed a three-point plan to prevent subway deaths: slow trains as they enter stations; put Metropolitan Transportation Authority agents on crowded platforms to more quickly respond to dangerous situations; and install emergency power shut-offs to tracks in station booths.

The MTA mostly shot down the plans, particularly slowing down trains, saying it would cause overcrowding on platforms and disrupt schedules systemwide.

"Lines that are already crowded would be more crowded," said Carmen Bianco, MTA's senior vice president for subways.

Bianco said the agency instead is mounting a public awareness campaign urging commuters not to stand near the edge of platforms. He also outlined the agency's plans for a pilot program to test barriers and other safety systems.

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