Let’s Revisit the Subway Air Conditioning Question

Ok, I was wrong!  I take it all back.  The concept of glass doors on the subway platforms is the best idea I’ve ever heard of.  After Bloomberg gets done solving the congestion pricing issue, he needs to work on this.  He would truly be a hero.

Back in April, SUBWAYblogger laughed at the idea of having glass doors as a barrier to the subway tracks on the new Second Avenue line.   The doors would work just like the AirTran stations.  I think the monorail at Disney World works this way too.

Basically, when the train’s not in the station, there’s doors that close to separate the open tracks from the platform.  I’m guessing that it is mainly a safety issue, but it also allows the contained platform areas to be air conditioned.

There’s absolutely no way to cool down the current system because the platforms are open to miles and miles of tunnels.  The hot air just gets trapped down there.

The NYC Subway was originally built with a push-pull system for air exchange.  Ever notice those large vents to street level?  They look like a large grate.  Well, they are there to let air exchange back and forth between street level and the tunnels.  Back in the day, the concept was to have a “natural” exchange of air caused by moving trains.

As a train moves forward, it pushes air.  When it reaches a vent, the air gets pushed out.  After the train passes the vent, the train then creates a trail of suction which pulls fresh air back down.  Hence, the push-pull system.  The entire fleet of trains does this constantly.

Unfortunately, the system was put into place waaaaay back in the day.  This was before we had such large, hot trains.  Back then, the trains were smaller and there were not as many.  Also, air conditioned trains is only a recent development.  Past trains had no AC at all!  All of today’s trains pump the hot air out of the train cars and back into the tunnels.  Also, the trains themselves are bigger and more powerful therefore requiring larger cooling systems.

So anyway, it’s time to revisit this issue.  There must be something that can be done. Maybe there’s trains that can run cold and don’t produce extra heat.  Or maybe we can put up doors on all the platforms.  Hell, we are spending billions of dollars on a new line.  Maybe we could roll the idea out system wide.  It would also cut down on the number of crazies that throw themselves on the tracks.  They’d probably still find a way, but at least it wouldn’t be easy.

In the mean time, we’ll sweat our asses off underground.

5 thoughts on “Let’s Revisit the Subway Air Conditioning Question

  1. The MTR, which is the train system in Hong Kong, has the glass doors in all their underground stations plus the stations are air conditioned. It makes for a pleasant environment and after having ridden the NYC subways, I would rather deal with hordes of Chinese on the subway than suffer the heat of the NYC subways.


  2. You really missed the ball with your original post ridiculing platform doors. Makes me wonder just how qualified you really are to write on this blog if you didn’t even understand how platform screen doors worked.
    Unfortunately, you probably helped delay the implementation of these screen doors, which also happen to save lives. Improving the MTA and other subway systems across the US is pretty damn simple. Go to Asia, ride their trains, and copy every damn thing they do. they move millions more people daily than US subway systems and are decades ahead of us. Yes, I said decades. Because that’s how long it will take to get platform screen doors in the US.


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