Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Install barriers on Toronto TTC subway platforms?
How many people must die before a decision is taken to put barriers up on subway platforms?
That’s the obvious question on a day when police are investigating whether someone pushed a man who was killed by a subway at the Yonge-Bloor startion.
There’s not many places in Toronto where nothing is done to curb such carnage. I mean how many people have died on the subway tracks during the past 60 years?
“On average about 24 (suicides) a year,” said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.
So quick math can add up to a heck of lot of deaths on those tracks in the past decade — and even more if you go farther back.
And yet nothing changes. Looking at the tiny platforms, one could be forgiven for thinking it’s the 1950s down there in a city only one-quarter the size of Toronto.
“The TTC would like to have barriers (between the trains and the passengers),” Ross said Monday night. “If government decides to do that, they will have to find a method to pay for it.”
Its not a cheap endeavour. Ross estimated it would cost $1.5 billion to install barriers at every station and to co-ordinate them to operate with the trains.
I say spend it — and spend it now.
You know that Monday was tough for TTC staff. The incident at Yonge-Bloor was not their only emergency. You can imagine the poor track level workers who have to deal with that.
“A barrier would end the suicides (on the subway)” Ross admitted.
For that reason alone, all level of governments should find a way to fund the project.
The most heinous case dates to 1997 when at the Dundas station when a 41-year-old man snuck up on innocent Charlene Minkowski and shoved her in front of a train. It shocked the whole city. Herbert Cheong was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 15 years — five years more than the mandatory minimum for that conviction.
Some 21 years later, subway barriers are still a pipe dream. With every journey on the subway, riders are only steps from falling off the platform or at risk of being electrocuted or crushed by a train. And it’s not just the risk of somebody purposely pushing a victim. On a crowded platform, someone could get shoved on to the tracks by accident.
There have been several incidents during the last 10 years in which people have gotten off the tracks just in the nick of time or had their heads hit by a train as it rolled through the station.
“We’ve had people go down track level to retrieve cellphones or try to cross the other side to catch a train,” said Ross.
The part that scares me is families with young children. There’s always a worry a child could end up down there.
Only medical help can help somebody suicidal. If you are in that state, call the CAMH distress line at 416-408-4357 or 408-HELP. A barrier on the subway won’t stop people from committing suicide — but it will stop them from doing it in the subway system just as a barrier did on the Bloor Street Viaduct.
Barriers will definitely protect anyone from being pushed in front of a train on purpose or accidently. We can make the subway a safer place.
Build bloody barriers on subway platforms. Built them now.
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