MTA Tests the Protran1 Safety Equipment

Protran1 gear 

The MTA is (and has) been testing the Protran1 safety system for its track workers.  The system allows workers to be alerted wirelessly when there is a train approaching. 

According to the Protran1 website, sensors are mounted on the trains which will set off portable warning lights/alarms.  The system can also set off portable pocket devices carried by each worker.  That way if they miss the primary alarm, there is the backup warning right in their pockets.  The system can warn workers when a train is 3000 feet away.

A few days ago, SUBWAYblogger reader Larry wrote a commenttalking about this Protran1 system saying that the MTA should look into it.  Looks like Larry was right!!

There is something that we find somewhat disturbing in this story though:

In the meantime, supervisors have been given radios to improve communication with train controllers, and maintenance workers have been retrained on track safety. – AP/NY Post

In the meantime?  You mean that they haven’t had these radios all along?  I’m no track worker or engineer, but wouldn’t you think that it only makes sense for the construction leader on site to have a radio that connects them to the train controllers?  That’s just common sense.  We’re kind of shocked that hasn’t been happening all along.

Also, the MTA has been going on and on about its commitment to worker safety.  Seems like a load of bull after the story that hit the presses this weekend.  Apparently, the alarm box at 59th Street where Daniel Boggs was killed has just now been repaired!  And that’s not even the most shocking news.

Apparently, there are 188 alarm boxes that are out of service at the this time.  That’s nearly 10%!  The broken alarm box that failed to warn Boggs had a repair ticked submitted almost a year before his death.  Yet, it still had not been repaired. 

Wouln’t you think that when you go to work in a specific area, the first thing the crews should do is check to see that all the “alarm boxes” are working?  If they discover one that is busted, they should fix that first before starting work on the rails, cleaning, or whatever they are there to do. 

5 thoughts on “MTA Tests the Protran1 Safety Equipment

  1. “Wouln’t you think that when you go to work in a specific area, the first thing the crews should do is check to see that all the “alarm boxes” are working?”

    That would require brains which most MTA people don’t have.


  2. You had to know that Iwould have something to say about this!
    Patrick, please don’t make comments like “That would require brains which most MTA people don’t have.” Often it is the ignorant who use such words.
    On to the “ALARM BOXES” This box does not WARN workers of anything. Alarm boxes are located throughout the system at the BLUE LIGHT. There you will hopefully find : a system telephone, a third rail shut down box and a fire extinguisher. Danny Boggs was unfortunately in contact with the third rail shoe of the train. I will not go into any more detail.
    Over the years with vandalism and obsolete equiptment they don’t work.
    At best the plan is if something or someone comes in contact with the 600 volt third rail a worker is to open the box pull the lever and power is removed from all tracks in the area,TEMPORARILY. THEY MUST USE THE SYSTEM PHONE TO CALL CONTROL AND GIVE THEM INFORMATION OR POWER WILL BE RESTORED!


  3. I went to thier website and looked at the specifications. This device would work well in some situations but as you know New York City Transit is like no other system in the world. Some of the problems I forsee are: trains can run on as many as four tracks at the same time. This could cause confusion as to where to clear up. It also works on a radio frequency. Radios are line of sight unless you have repeaters. With all the curves this would result in dead zones. If you use repeaters we would never be able to work because the damn things would always be beeping, and dont forget many subway tunnels are multi-level. Trains run above and below us as well. Systems like Staten Island Transit could use this because they have only two tracks that are relatively tangent. As always the best protection is Flagging, when done properly it works well. Unfortunately the majority of transit workers getting clipped (thats what we call it) are setting up or removing flagging. They are unprotected while performing thier duties. Also the rules state that the first flag or lamp to be placed out must be the green, this is to ensure that the trains run on time for you folks. Then and only then can the flag person set out yellow caution lamps and then the red light and stop arm. A flagman for a track cleaning gang. The guys you see picking up trash from the tracks, walks approximately three miles of track for every four track station his gang will clean. They average three stations per night (thats why they walk so fast and pick up the debris that would most likely cause track fires). And you probably thought they were doing a shitty job.
    Radios might help us to know if the control tower is diverting a train, because of one of those sick passengers or slow trains because of the door holders.


  4. This is a chilling article that came out this morning.

    Exclusive – Subway safety dance

    NYC Transit hemmed & hawed on deal
    for warning system for track workers


    Tuesday, May 15th 2007, 4:00 AM

    “A year before two trackmen were fatally struck by subway trains last month, NYC Transit officials were told of a device designed to warn workers of approaching trains and avert such tragedies, the Daily News has learned.” …


  5. I know the technology well and I was at all the testing for the ProTran 1 ProTracker and Portable ProTracker which included the tunnel testing. It woked perfectly. Passed every test. I also traveled around the country and found that many other advanced transit authorities are using this system in worse tunnels then NYCT. If you want to solve this problem this is the start of a technology that is needed. Workers are asking for something that will give them a “second chance”.


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