Overcrowded Subways Get More “Platform Controllers” to Reduce Dawdling in Brooklyn

Photo via MTA

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    For many Brooklynites, the soul-crushing stampede of humanity that comes with boarding a morning-rush-hour train seems to only be getting worse. But the MTA thinks it might be able to alleviate some of the problems.

    As the subway system becomes increasingly overburdened by more and more straphangers, the MTA has turned to platform controllers to help decrease the amount of time spent boarding.

    Platform controllers are “specially trained conductors that help speed customers boarding so that trains can be on their way as quickly as possible,” according to the MTA’s website. They are recognizable by their MTA uniforms, goggles and blue-and-yellow vests.

    “We have had platform controllers in place for decades but we recently added additional controllers at busier locations,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told Brownstoner. The Brooklyn stations that have had additional controllers added are the A/C/L/J/Z Broadway Junction station in East New York, the B/D/N/Q/R DeKalb Avenue station in Downtown Brooklyn and the L Rockaway Parkway station in Canarsie.

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    According to a promotional video explaining the program, a mere 30-second delay caused by extra “dwell time” — those moments lost when someone jams the door with their backpack or holds the doors for a friend — can in turn delay as many as 10 trains behind the affected train.

    Based on the video, it seems the controllers’ tactics differ from the storied train pushers in Japan, who literally squish people onto packed cars. Instead, New York’s controllers signal conductors when it’s safe to close the doors, so the train can leave the station as quickly as possible.

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