bag the entrance searches, we need exits!

the wrong kind of crowd control

It's a good thing it was Penn Station, because virtually none of New York's Transit system stations could be evacuated for either a real or a false alarm.

Chief Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg's new policy of passenger searches absolutely will not prevent a terrorist hit in our subway system. A real terrorist will just take another train or set off a weapon on the spot. But if something does happen tomorrow, any survivors of an initial attack are likely already doomed by today's official negligence.

They'll never get out.

Sometimes there are a few regular low-bar turnstiles at a station, but most of the time passengers have to exit through ceiling-to-floor turnstile cages which admit only one person at a time. In addition, even though there are often a number of exit stairways in each station, during many hours of the day (or permanently) all but one of them is locked, even those which can only be used as exits!

There's no chance a number of cars and a platform could be emptied in anyone's definition of a hurry. Up to 2000 people may be on a single train, and many more might be on the platform, waiting or leaving, at the same time. Most everyone will have to pass through cages one at a time. I sounds to me like this could easily take a half hour or more.

In addition, it won't help any of us to survive if the system's emergency lighting is still connected to the third rail, as it is now. When train power is cut for whatever reason there is no light anywhere in the tunnels.

Looking to the near future, the MTA is still proceding with plans to eliminate clerks in the stations, conductors in the cars, and even motormen at the stick. Where is the sanity?

Our politicians and public guardians hope to give us the impression that they are making us all safer with unconstitutional searches. Certainly they know the policy is wrong and useless, so why are they not addressing a very real danger but jumping at the chance to push this obviously bogus remedy? I think it's because sending the police in to go through the bags of people of color is much less trouble, much less expensive, and, above all, much less like an embarrassing admission of continuing incompetence - that is, until something really does happen.

For a personal account of our own experience of MTA incompetence in a real incident, fortunately with neither serious injuries nor terrorism involved, see this post.

[image from the MTA]

That's a really good point. How can the MTA be made to answer for it?

Regarding the subway searches, Flex Your Rights Foundation has an excellent Citizen's Guide to Refusing New York Subway Searches detailing how to reject a potential search while entering the subway. Thought you might be interested.

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Published on July 25, 2005 1:40 PM.

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