Dangerous platforms

By Thomas Tracy

Brooklyn’s train stations are crumbling. That was Assemblymember Dov Hikind’s assessment Monday following an unofficial inspection of hazardous conditions at subway stations in his district, which includes parts of Midwood, Flatbush, Bensonhurst and Borough Park. The survey, done by Hikind’s staffers, found holes enough to catch someone’s foot, tripping hazards, uneven patchwork repairs, peeling paint, loose grates and rotten wood at the lips of the train platform. These “deplorable safety hazards” have been found along the F line between the Avenue I and Avenue P stations, Borough Park stations along the D line, as well as the Kings Highway Q station, where a 14-year-old boy reportedly tumbled onto the tracks after the rubbing board at the edge of the platform cracked beneath him. Young Avi Katz’s plight spearheaded the train station inspections, which in turn led Hikind to fire off a letter to MTA New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) President Howard Roberts Jr., demanding that his employees “exert more stringent safety protocols” as they maintain the borough train stations. “The MTA proudly touts 1.5 billion passengers, but if basic safety measures are ignored, there is little to be proud of,” Hikind said in a statement released with the informal inspections. “There are gaping holes in the concrete, misaligned platform edges, wooden rubbing boards are decaying and separating from the concrete platform. Where is the oversight?” Hikind is demanding that the Office of the Inspector General of the MTA investigate what he calls “widespread negligence” — before another straphanger suffers the same fate that Katz did. During a press conference at Hikind’s office a week earlier, Katz said he was at the Kings Highway station on his way home from yeshiva when the rubbing board at the edge of the platform cracked beneath him as he peered out to see if a train was coming. Katz fell forward onto the tracks and managed to jump back onto the platform before a train arrived. His yarmulke was left behind and ended up getting pancaked on the tracks, officials said. Although her child only received a few bruises, Katz’s mother was considering taking legal action against the MTA. “MTA riders must be assured that the platforms will not give way beneath them, as it did under 14-year-old Avi Katz,” Hikind said, adding that he was gratified to learn that the MTA Inspector General’s office declared that they were assessing the condition of subway platforms throughout the system. NYCTA officials contend that all 468 subway stations in the city’s transit system are inspected every other day. “The repairs made to these stations are in some cases temporary, and more are made as warranted,” a NYCTA spokesperson said. “Overall, we believe our stations are in a safe operating condition.”

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