MANHATTAN — Following an outcry for change after two New Yorkers were shoved onto the subway tracks in a week — including Michelle Go who was tragically crushed by a subway train — in unconnected attacks, Manhattan’s top officials gathered in Times Square Thursday to demand the MTA take action— installing subway platform barriers like those in place in cities across the globe.
“As our city reels the loss of Michelle Go, we must take action to make the subway safer for all New Yorkers,” said City Council Member Keith Powers— who represents part of the Upper East Side— on Thursday.
In another frightening attack earlier this week, a 62-year-old man was shoved onto the tracks of the Fulton Street station in Lower Manhattan, according to the NYPD.
“This is a very simple issue, we need to restore safety on our subway system,” said City Council Member Julie Menin, who also represents part of the Upper East Side.
“The people do not feel safe, people cannot be looking around their shoulder,” she said.
Here on the Upper East Side, we’ve experienced similar horrors. Just this December, a man’s dead body was found on the train tracks at the East 68th Street-Lexington Avenue station, while a second person was struck by a subway train at the East 86th Street-Lexington Avenue station— separate tragedies taking place only an hour apart.
“From Paris to Tokyo, São Paolo to Barcelona, other cities around the world have installed platform screen doors in their subways to protect riders,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said Thursday.
“Standing today in Times Square with my colleagues to say it’s time for the MTA to start catching up,” he added.
While the calls grow louder for the MTA to immediately start piloting platform barriers, disability advocates say a larger issue looms that should be addressed before billions of dollars are spent.
“Until every New Yorker can get to the platform with elevators and escalators that consistently work, barriers shouldn’t be the financial priority of the MTA,” said Rebecca Lamorte, an Upper East Side disability rights advocate and former Council Candidate.
In full disclosure, Lamorte has contributed an article to Upper East Site.
On Thursday, she described the astonishingly difficult process of traveling from the UES as a disabled New Yorker.
“The Upper East Side did not have any accessible Subway stops from 59th to 96th street until the Second Avenue subway opened,” said Lamorte.
“So that means every stop along the Lexington avenue line to this day is still inaccessible,” the community orgainzer added.
In fact, only a quarter of the MTA stations are accessible for the over one million disabled New Yorkers.
Thursday’s push for barriers make Lamorte and other disability rights advocates concerned they aren’t seeing the same fight for accessibility.
“There were elected officials at the press conference today that represent the Lexington Avenue line, and I haven’t heard them be so full-throated in calling the accessibility crisis a crisis,” said Lamorte.
The MTA released a nearly 3,000 page report Thursday afternoon from 2019 downplaying the feasibility of barriers, stating only 128 stations could accommodate the doors while costing $7 billion to install.