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It looks like the MTA’s $836 million plan to stop the dangerous subway fires that have plagued the system has yet to pay off, as the number of blazes has actually increased over the past year.
The Subway Action Plan was enacted on July 25, 2017 after a surge of fires injured dozens of riders and trapped others inside sealed subway cars. That summer was later dubbed “The Summer of Hell,” ironic given the fiery conditions commuters were forced to endure.
The MTA’s $836-million-dollar effort to stop the lethal fires has been largely unsuccessful, as 963 car and station fires – three more than the previous year – were recorded between July 2017 and July 2018.
Officials vaunt that although station and car fires have increased, the number of fires on the tracks, most commonly due to litter or debris, has decreased. And while they aren’t incorrect, a decrease of 27 fires – from 698 to 671 – is certainly not a triumphant success.
It is likely this reduction was not even due to the Subway Action Plan, but rather to a crack-down on littering. In September of 2017, fines were doubled from $50 to $100, and the NYPD issued over 74% more tickets than the same period of the previous year.
Despite the MTA’s failure overall, more plans are reportedly being discussed, allowing the agency to “address litter more aggressively” and further reduce the number of track fires. One such plan includes three new “vacuum trains,” designed to clean the tracks as they travel.
While this appears to be good for track fires, there are still the remaining 963 car and station fires to be concerned about. Commuter safety is at stake, and despite increasing fires and persistently dangerous conditions, a fare hike of 4% is scheduled to occur in the beginning of 2019.
Subway fires are burning up MTA funds and leaving commuters in the rubble. The agency is throwing exorbitant amounts of money at the problem with no solution other than hustling riders out of more money. As per usual, customers are paying for the MTA’s negligence, both with their wallets and their safety.
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