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NYC Transit Installs Covers Over Emergency Brake Pull Cords

MTA NYC Transit had a major problem on the Lexington Av line, where pickpockets and pranksters would pull the emergency brakes on crowded rush hour trains. Such cord pulls disrupt the entire line and infuriate customers.

In 1992 I sent a postcard to the transit authority's president, Alan Kieper, suggesting they instal covers over the pull chords and attach an alarm to the cover. Thomas Pendergrast, the Senior Vice President for Rapid Transit, replied: "Although this is a good idea, it is the opinion of the NYCTA that it would further complicate an emergency situation by restricting access to the emergency pull chord. We are presently working on installing a prototype illuminated and audible alarm system which is sensitive to the movement of the emergency pull cord arm."

NYCT tried many enforcement measures to stem the problem, but all failed. They finally convinced the MTA board that the only way to remedy the problem was to instal the covers I mentioned above. The Board approved a $2 million experiment that would put the covers on Lexington Av trains. The experiment proved more successful than ever anticipated. Cord pulls have been eliminated. NYCT plans to expand the cover program to the entire system.


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Last updated: 4 April 1999