The city's subway system could trap commuters like a trap in a trap in an emergency, because anybody with a padlock and chain could lock the 24-hour security gates shut, a lawsuit filed by a subway supervisor alleges. According to whistle-blower Peter Nichik, there's nothing stopping the bad guys from closing the gates, locking them, and creating "a very dangerous and potentially lethal event in an emergency situation." This is a real possibility, Nichik portends, because these gates are not locked in the open position. Food for thought!

"These conditions present a significant danger to the riding public and [MTA] employees in the event of a situation requiring rapid evacuation or emergency response and rescue," Nichik's lawyer tells the Post. "The defects continue to exist unabated in many NYC subway stations." The MTA insists it became aware of the vulnerability and rectified the problem in 2008, but it didn't take the Post long to find a subway entrance with a gate that wasn’t padlocked open, at the C/E station on the northeast corner 51 Street and 8th Avenue. Naturally, reporters gleefully pointed out the danger to passersby. "It’s frightening! It’s just not a safe environment," exclaimed one Laura Rizzo, a 44-year-old Captain of the good ship Obvious.

Nichik says he's also seen many instances in which the emergency "panic bar" exits were improperly locked. According to his lawsuit, the higher-ups at the MTA routinely shrugged off his warnings, and when we wouldn't shut up, the claims he was punished with poor work evaluations, disciplinary charges, suspensions and a demotion. Nichik wants a judge to issue an emergency order to the MTA to fix the alleged problems, plus money for damages. "We believe there is no merit whatsoever to this individual's claim," the MTA said in a statement.