Commuters trying to escape a crowded subway exit bottleneck have come to accept those abominable emergency door alarms as an infuriating fact of life. But the New York City Transit Riders Council says it doesn't have to be that way! The volunteer group, which was created by the state legislature in 1981 to represent the official voice of NYC bus and subway riders, has issued a report urging the MTA to replace the high volume alarms "with indicator lights or low volume audible tones."
After conducting a survey monitoring subway behavior, the NYCTRC concluded that "because the alarms sound very frequently, they have lost their ability to alert riders to a possible emergency and, if anything, serve to distract a shrinking force of station personnel from other duties...The alarms that sound to indicate that an emergency gate has been opened do not appear to deter improper use of the gates."
But without the horrible piercing alarm sounds, won't fare beaters go wild? The NYCTRC, which observed 109 people sneaking into the subway through an open emergency gate, doesn't think so. According to the report: "It has been said that alarms sounding when emergency gates are open serve as notice of an opportunity for fare evasion, but it must also be noted that there is much fare evasion that does not involve the emergency gates." And it's not unheard of for the transit police to arrest a commuter for exiting through the gate, either; one guy spent 28 hours in jail for trying to leave the subway station through an emergency gate.