Seven people died while walking or riding between New York City subway cars in 2018, according to the MTA, including four people in December alone — a jump from five total deaths in 2017.
There were also five deaths from passengers going between subway cars in 2016. After 2018’s deadly year, the transit authority is reminding New Yorkers how dangerous walking between subway cars can be.
“Riding or walking between subway cars without supervision is dangerous and can cost a person their life,” NYC Transit President Andy Byford said in a statement. “It’s not worth it and we’re urging our customers not to do it.”
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NYC Transit recently launched a new public service campaign in an attempt to dissuade subway riders from taking the risk.
As part of that new effort, you may hear your subway announcer say, “Hello everyone. It’s against the rules and very dangerous to ride or walk between train cars, unless it’s an emergency, or if you’re directed by a police officer or MTA crew member. Have a safe day, and thank you for riding with us.”
Display signs in New York City subway stations will also show the death totals. Those PSAs began in the last week of December, stating that “3 people have died this month walking between moving subway cars. Don’t take the risk. Please ride safely.” That had to be updated after a fourth person died on Dec. 29 while walking between the cars of a southbound Q train at the 96th Street of the Second Avenue line.
Walking between subway cars is certainly dangerous, but the MTA also has some simply frustrating statistics that may help dissuade the habit about how such incidents can cause serious delays.
When someone dies, power needs to be cut from the tracks and a first responder investigation and recovery work takes place, causing train delays and crowding on platforms.
From the seven such deaths in 2018, there were approximately 500 New York City subway delays recorded as a result. One incident alone on Dec. 21 caused 190 delays.
Is walking between New York City subway cars illegal?
MTA officials will also add new on-car signs and stickers to remind straphangers how dangerous it can be.
There are already signs on the New York City subway saying “riding or moving between cars is prohibited,” and the action has been illegal since 2005, when police enacted a $75 fine for switching subway cars.
Before that, though, New Yorkers reportedly moved between subway cars somewhat frequently, whether “to escape particularly strong smells or danger,” or just because it was fun.
President Donald Trump even admitted to the latter in 2017.
“I know the subway system very well,” he told the New York Times. “I used to take it to Kew-Forest School, in Forest Hills, when I lived in Queens. And I’d take the subway to school. Seems a long time ago. I’d take it from Jamaica, 179th Street. Jamaica, right? To Forest Hills. I understand the subway very well. I used to ride between the cars.”
His parents “weren’t thrilled” when they heard that, he added, and neither, apparently, was NYPD transit.
“Please don’t ride between the subway cars,” the department tweeted, sharing a screenshot of Trump’s quote.