The transit workers union is implementing an unusual and disturbing method to encourage commuters to be safe when on subway platforms – by handing out bloody MTA cards called “Grim Reaper” cards.
With the recent wave of deaths resulting from subway pushes, falls, and other accidents, Metropolitan Transport officials have been discussing plans to implement further safety measures using technological advances such as installing barriers between the platform and the tracks or implementing laser-beam sensing “intrusion alarm” systems.
The MTA also put up posters urging riders to stand away from the edge of the platform.
Transport Workers Union Local 100 also supports subway safety, but believes it can be done in a cheaper, faster, and more effective way. To spread their message, the union members created Grim Reaper cards, which have the familiar MTA logo splashed with blood on one side, and the union’s demands on the other, which include:
- Post lower speed limits at the entrances to all subway stations
- Put agents on crowded platforms
- Use an emergency switch to shut off power
TWU has also argued for subway train speeds to be slowed down during only certain times. Most subway-related fatalities occur between 9 p.m. and midnight, but when the TWU proposed that the MTA slow down trains during those off-peak hours, the idea was immediately rejected.
"The working people of New York are afraid of the subway because they know the trains come barreling into the station," said TWU Vice President Kevin Harrington, a veteran subway driver. "Coming in slow, I think, is the best way to keep from running people over."
In 2012, 55 people died in subway-related deaths – a six-year high. On average, 135 people are hit per year by NYC subway trains, but most survive.