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MTA installs barriers at Harlem subway station to protect conductors from being attacked

by Staff

The MTA is testing out placing physical barriers onto the platform at a Harlem subway station in hopes of reducing attacks on train conductors, the agency said Monday.

The 4-foot-tall portable safety stanchions are made of flexible rubberized material and bright orange in color. They were added around a previously painted no-standing zone at the 125th Street station on the 4/5/6 line as part of a pilot program that aims to deter riders from standing too close to workers operating the trains.

“In some instances, the floor stripes faded and lost some of their visibility,” MTA New York City Transit SVP Subways Demetrius Crichlow said in a statement. “We hope that adding additional visibility elements create a more well-defined zone of safety and security around our hard-working subway conductors to ensure they can do their work without fear of being attacked on the platform while they simply try to do their jobs.”

According to the MTA, workers will observe how effective the stanchions are over the next few months. They may be installed at other stations, depending on the results.

On Monday evening, the uptown platform at the station was packed with people. Several riders crossed the rubber poles into the no-standing area to ask conductors questions about train service. Downstairs, the no-standing rectangle didn’t appear to line up with the conductors once the trains came to a stop inside the station.

Lismary Fernandez lives in the Bronx. She said she thinks the barriers create more danger by clustering people on the platform.

“People don’t let other people come off the train, that’s one,” she told Gothamist. “The other, you’re just going to have a lot of people in between. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Liz Neumark lives on the Upper East Side and said conductors are too crucial to try and limit riders’ access to them on the platform.

“You know, I didn’t realize that conductors were as vulnerable as straphangers, so that is a little bit of a surprise for me,” Neumark said.

The news comes weeks after the MTA started testing out another type of safety barrier on a train platform, installing protective barriers at the 191st Street subway station in Manhattan.

Last week, the agency also announced a plan to switch all 150,000 light fixtures in the subway system to brighter LEDs, a change transit officials say will make the subway system feel safer.

On top of the physical infrastructure changes, Mayor Eric Adams has also continued to increase the number of NYPD officers throughout the system.

This story has been updated.

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