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NYCTRC Testimony – October 21, 2019 – Track Barriers for Adjacent Flagging

Good morning my name is Sheila Binesh and I am speaking on behalf of the NYCT Riders Council. The new animated subway ads demonstrate the success of modifying signals for faster rides and we commend the Save Safe Seconds program for this!

Yet a remaining cause for delays is the inefficiency of adjacent flagging practices. Flaggers protect track workers from passing trains by stopping them until workers are safely out of the way. In 2007, after a series of deaths, an Adjacent Track Flagging rule was put into effect to protect workers next to active tracks. We believe worker safety is absolutely paramount and that there may be ways to mitigate the negative operational effects of adjacent track flagging. 17 months ago, the MTA board approved 2000 feet of a Magnetic Safety Barrier system. Initial reviews from the Safety Technology Workforce demonstration mentioned in the procurement were favorable. We are eager to hear a program review on the benefits of their use. Will the barriers be widely implemented?

Increasing the use of track barriers, which physically separates workers from adjacent trains, allows trains to safely move at full speed, reducing travel times. They can also increase worker productivity, reduce the opportunity for human error, and improve worker safety. Such productivity improvements can cut maintenance and capital project costs that rely on track access, like signal modernization. When combined with increased system capacity, these savings could be reinvested in increased service, creating a virtuous cycle of reinvestment.

These physical barriers can be a win-win for workers, riders, and the agency.  As threats for service cuts and budget deficits loom, it is ever more important to improve service for riders, streamline work processes, and cut costs. We believe this committee would benefit from a barrier implementation update. Thank you.

Full testimony: 10.21.19 Subway Flagging