Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Suicide barriers a waste of TTC money - Toronto Star

I don't know why, but I find myself mostly disagreeing with most of the posts in the Toronto Star's Your City, My City series. The most recent post is about the plan to install suicide barriers at selected subway stations, and the writer feels that the money is better spent lowering the fares or hiring observers to watch for distressed individuals on the platform. The first part is nowhere near true, as a one-time $30 million injection (the value of this project) would only lower fares a few cents for a few months. The second part has merit, but we have to consider all of the benefits of suicide barriers:

  1. They prevent suicides and accidental death by physically preventing people from jumping in front of the train.
  2. They improve the subway's people-moving capacity. Generally, automated train control is necessary to ensure the train's doors line up with the barrier's doors. This automated control system will allow the trains to operate much closer together than would be safe with humans in control, and higher frequencies (not higher speeds!) means higher capacity.
  3. They almost eliminate the delays caused by trash blowing onto the electrified rail and igniting, triggering the trackside smoke detectors. Unless there is a fire in a nearby building, this is the likely cause of the near daily 10-15 minute delays on the subway.
Suicide barriers don't seem like a good investment on face, but when one considers all the benefits it begins to seem like a pretty good value.

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