Subway tracks intruders while MTA works to stop intruders

The number of intruders on subway tracks rose in December, according to newly released data from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as the agency works to halt a recent wave of intruders on the tracks.

The MTA recorded 11 incidents of “persons on track beds” on weekdays and nine on weekends last month, up from the same month last year when there were eight and three, respectively.

Those numbers are also higher than before the pandemic in December 2019, when there were 10 incidents on weekdays and just one on a weekend.

On Saturdays and Sundays last month, the nine break-ins accounted for almost all of the 11 major incidents that caused delays in the subway system, the agency said.

The numbers only account for cases that have caused delays in the subway system, but transit officials are grappling with a month-long surge in people climbing the roadbed.

“We have a lot of issues with crazy people, people with mental health issues, even going into tunnels,” MTA chief Janno Lieber told Albany lawmakers during a Senate hearing to confirm his nomination for the agency’s top job on Wednesday.

Railroad trespassing caused more than 1,500 delays in November, Lieber told the New York Post last month, and he has tapped MTA builder Jamie Torres-Springer to lead a trespassing task force to address the problem.

“People come out on the track at rates that are really unacceptable. It’s dangerous, we need to figure out how to scale back and be aggressive,” Lieber said during an independent news conference last week.

The MTA has not provided an updated count of delays due to track interventions for December.

The head of the agency’s internal riders’ council, the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, said intruders pose a danger to themselves and other straphangers.

“Absolutely nobody should be on the track unless they work in the system, they have safety training and there is a good reason to be there,” said Lisa Daglian. “Otherwise, there’s a chance something really shameful and dangerous could happen to all of us underground, in addition to the people walking on the track bed.”

“There are train delays, there are potential track fires, someone can get hit and killed, there can be objects on the tracks like a shopping cart causing a derailment and causing countless injuries,” Daglian said.

The agency on Jan. 12 launched a call for the rail and tech industries to deploy a system that recognizes people and objects on subway and commuter rail routes, The City first reported.

The effort also comes as advocates and transit experts have urged MTA to reconsider installing platform screen doors in response to Michelle Alyssa Go’s horrific fatal shoving into an oncoming train in Times Square last week.

Though the barriers exist in transit systems around the world, including around the city on the JFK AirTrain, operated by the separate Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Lieber has warned that getting them around the city could be expensive and complicated set up 472 subway stations.

A study for the transit agency found that only 41 stations were able to get platform screen doors, less than 10%, NY1 reported, due to conflicts with the Americans with Disabilities Act, pillars that are too close to the platform edge, differing train car sizes, and a lack of space for Equipment.

If all subway trains were the same size, 128 stations could accommodate the screens, or just more than one stop in four, which the study estimates at $7 billion.

Lieber said in an interview on Sunday that the “physical limitations” were the main obstacle to installing the gates – not the price – adding that the agency was taking a further look.

“It’s not a question of cost, there are some physical limitations,” Lieber told WABC. “We’re looking into it again and are interested to see if there are any opportunities to install it, particularly in some of the busier stations where there’s a little more congestion.”

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