The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is in the midst of conducting a feasibility study on whether to install safety barriers along the edge of its subway platforms.
Talk of an added protective measure for commuters is nothing new. Toronto Public Health previously included it in its list of recommendations for suicide prevention.
However, the discussion was prompted again by the incident that unfolded Monday morning at Bloor-Yonge subway station. A man in his 70s was allegedly pushed to his death from the eastbound platform.
“The platforms need to be reinforced. The platforms would need to be retrenched with cables and power supplies,” explained TTC spokesperson Brad Ross.
He pegged the cost of retrofitting stations to accommodate the barriers at roughly $1 billion.
“Yesterday, as tragic as it was, was a rare occurance. Somebody is in custody. Somebody is now being processed through the justice system,” Ross said
Twenty-three-year-old Charlene Minkowski was waiting for her train at Dundas subway station in 1997 when she was shoved onto the tracks and fatally struck.
In February 2009, three teenage boys were pushed from the platform at Dufferin subway station. Two fell to the tracks and were injured while one managed to maintain his balance.
“This is something that city council and the Board of Health have said we need to do,” said Ross.
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The concept has already gained traction in parts of Asia and Europe. Automatic platform screen doors and barriers have been used for a variety of reasons, including suicide prevention.
“In order to put in platform edge doors, you need to first have automatic train control,” said Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc.
“Because you have to make sure that the doors of the vehicle line up with the doors on the platform.”
The process of installing automatic train control has already begun.
Mayor John Tory was also asked about the move at a Tuesday morning news conference.
“Always the issue that looms out there — and I don’t mean to bring this back to money when you’re dealing with trying to save lives — but in the end, this is a huge undertaking for us,” he said.
Tory added that costs could soar well beyond the $1 billion mark. He said the city will wait for the TTC’s study, which is slated to be complete some time in 2020.
“When we are losing the number of lives that we are, we owe it to the city and its population to take a very serious look at this,” Tory said.