Alarming number of NYC subways are using broken equipment
The city’s subway system is rife with an alarming array of dangerous problems, from broken speedometers to faulty signal gauges, radios and safety cameras, workers told The Post.
Up to 90 percent of the speedometers on the D line don’t work, and more than 50 percent of the gauges on B and R trains are broken, forcing subway operators to go exceedingly slow on many sections of track to avoid tripping signals and emergency brakes, the employees said.
“More than half the trains on those lines have some kind of mechanical defect,” said train conductor Eric Loegel.
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While signal “tripping’’ equipment installed on the trains in the ’80s was designed to help make sure cars slow down in an emergency, it often doesn’t function properly, leading to delays for no reason, the employees said.
As for on-the-fritz speedometers, train operators said the MTA tells them they should be able to tell their speed “by feel,” which the workers call ludicrous.
“There’s no way you can differentiate between 10 mph and 15 mph, and that’s sometime the difference between tripping the signal or not,” said train operator Jason Norris, 36. “These cars go much slower than they should because management won’t fix the equipment.’’
Meanwhile, the system’s closed-circuit cameras are supposed to tell conductors if the platform ahead is clear, but they are often broken or provide images so blurry, they are impossible to see.
“You need to have humans on the platforms to make sure the situation is safe,” Norris said.
The camera situation is so bad that the workers’ union is now threatening to halt trains and call dispatch to send managers in any time a conductor can’t see every inch of the station platform.
The operators and conductors also have to deal with radios that don’t work, meaning that they often can’t get in touch with emergency responders when they need to. In emergencies, a train operator will frequently have to secure the cab, step out onto the tracks and walk to the nearest tunnel phone — which also might not be working.
“All [higher-ups] are concerned with is keeping their train moving and passengers moving while they have such a large volume of trains that are broken,’’ said Joe Costales, vice president of rapid-transit operations for Transit Workers Union Local 100.
Trammel Thompson, a train conductor who heads Progressive Action, an MTA-worker advocate group, added, “They put the conductors and operators in a bad situation, and it puts the riders in a bad situation.”
But MTA spokesman Shams Tarek said, “Any allegation of significant service impacts or safety risks due to not listening to workers is completely baseless and false.
“One of the main pillars of [New York City Transit] President [Andy] Byford’s approach to management is to engage and empower employees to help modernize NYC Transit as one unified team,’’ the rep said.
“Safety is everyone’s top priority,’’ and the agency engages in “a comprehensive regime of regular maintenance, daily emergency repairs, constantly updated training and constant equipment use and reporting.’’
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