Wednesday, February 02, 2011

817 New York, Welcome to Taipei

817 New York, Welcome to Taipei

This space has called the Taipei subway, the “MRT,” the most advanced and usable on the planet. Now, maybe, years behind, New York’s MTA may be catching up, at least in part.

One of the things that makes the MRT the best is a simple safety precaution. There are Plexiglas partitions between the edge of the platform and the gully where the tracks run. The train pulls in. The car doors line up with the barrier, the barrier section slides away and people get off and on. The train door then closes and so does the barrier.

The NY Daily News reports that in 2009, 90 people were struck by New York Subways and 40 of them died.

It’s not like the MTA had to go all the way to Asia to find out about this kind of thing. AirTrain does it in Queens. Some riders are worried about the cost of installing barriers on so many platforms. We don’t have figures, but eventually the agency settles lawsuits resulting from this kind of injury. People get pushed, they jump. They fall. They sue. Could barriers actually turn a profit despite the cost?

The Taipei subway never misses the gate openings. The trains glide up at speed, stop fast but comfortably right where they must, perfectly aligned. This probably means automation assistance for what we used to call the “motorman,” or “engineer” or driver. Thing is, it CAN be done.

The MRT has other advantages: It’s cheap to ride, it’s clean and you can’t eat or drink or even bring food or beverages -- even chewing gum -- to the platforms. They find you and they fine you.

And they run more trains than you can count. No one waits half an hour for a subway. And the signs tell you when the next one will arrive, and it does.

Granted, the MRT is newer and smaller than New York’s aching, aging system. But it still can be done.

Muggers and mental cases, jumpers and people without balance? You’ll just have to find a new way to kill yourselves if this project actually happens.


--Mayor Mike conducted a “Gun Sting” in Arizona where Arizona residents paid by the City of New York and intimating they might be felons bought guns of the type used in the Tucson shootings at a gun show -- and this was not the first time or the first state. Both the gun club and the ATF objected. The club sited “no legal authority,” the ATF cited its own operations manual, titled “CYA.”

--Is Mike trying to be Crusader Rabbit? No. He’s trying to keep illegal weapons out of town. For that he has legal authority and doesn’t have to answer to the ATF, not exactly the most “nept” of federal agencies.

--In a typically lunatic reaction, Nassau County has filed suit to prevent the state takeover of its finances, which it calls “political.” Sure it’s political. And so were the reasons state administration became necessary. Wake up, guys, you’re an inch away from going belly up.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2011

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