Your subway ride will soon get a lot longer – thanks to the transit union.
Responding to a recent spate of people killed on the tracks, the Transport Workers Union has instructed subway-train operators to slow down significantly when entering stations.
But the MTA wasn’t buying the union’s concern – accusing it of using the safety issue in order to slow down trains.
Reducing service could give the 35,000-member TWU Local 100 leverage in upcoming contract talks with the MTA by showing how much it could cripple service if it doesn’t get its way.
Union brass distributed fliers to train operators over the weekend, giving them instructions on how to reduce speed in order to prevent subway deaths.
“Slow down, blow your horn and proceed with caution,” the flier reads.
“Preventing [an accident], and saving yourself the emotional trauma and potential loss of income that go with it, is worth a few extra minutes on your trip.”
TWU officials insist that slower trains could help prevent subway deaths like the two recent instances in which straphangers were killed after being shoved onto the tracks.
But in an e-mail to the union, a top MTA negotiator warned the TWU that its fliers, which have gone up in crew rooms throughout the system, could be construed as an illegal protest.
“Any slowdowns in the system which results from this activity may be considered a job action,” wrote Christopher Johnson, MTA vice president of labor relations.
The state’s Taylor Law prohibits the TWU from striking or slowing down service as a bargaining tool. If the union does so, it could be fined.
Subway operators currently enter stations at about 30 to 40 mph. But TWU President John Samuelsen, in a Jan. 9 letter to MTA subway chief Tom Prendergast, insisted that speed should be drastically reduced.
He said the MTA should “post speed restrictions at the entrance of every station reducing the allowable speed to 10 mph.”
The MTA said doing that would delay service for millions.
“If we would slow trains down we’d have fewer trips, more crowded trains and more crowded platforms,” said MTA spokesman Charles Seaton.
Entering at abnormally slow speeds also disrupts signals, causing a chain reaction of delays throughout the system, he said.
Any operator caught driving at slower speeds would be disciplined, he said.
Riders are starting to notice.
“Just left R train motorman clearly doing a rule book slow down,” tweeted straphanger Bill Mastro from Brooklyn yesterday during the evening rush hour.
Samuelsen also wants the MTA to install a customer-activated light to alert train operators when someone is on the tracks.
Source: NY Post