Elected officials are outraged over the spate of recent deaths in MTA subway stations. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has called upon the MTA to “conduct an in-depth investigation” of these incidents, and New York City Councilman and Transportation Committee Chairman James Vacca declared Tuesday that he’ll assemble key transit officials for an emergency hearing because “standing by without a plan of action as incident after incident occurs is not an option.”
While subway deaths appear to be on the rise (there have been six so far this year, on track to double the annual average), annual fatalities on MTA tracks have held steady around 50 for the past few years, peaking in 2007 and 2012 with 55. These incidents have attracted more attention in recent weeks, however, after two riders were pushed in front of trains in separate incidents in December.
December was a gruesome month beneath the streets of New York, but it was even scarier above ground. In December 2012, 16 pedestrians and one cyclist were killed in New York City, including four hit-and-runs between December 26 and 29. There were also 1,500 reported injuries to pedestrians and cyclists in December, the most of any month all year. Yet nobody called for an investigation or an emergency hearing on reckless driving.
Nobody would disagree with Vacca when he says that “one life lost on our subway tracks is one life too many,” but would the statement be just as true if we substituted “city streets” for “subway tracks”?