6. Glass Walls and Sliding Doors were Proposed for the Second Avenue Subway Platforms

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In April 2007 the New York Times ran a story about designer’s proposal to include a floor-to-ceiling glass barrier and doors in the new subway stations. The glass barriers would have completely sealed off the tracks, only opening when the trains doors opened. Gone would be the swooshing gust of wind as the trains go barreling down the platform.

The platform edge doors, as they are called, are used in many subway systems around the world, and provide numerous benefits. In addition to the obvious safety and hygienic benefits (no more trash on the tracks!), the doors provide substantial energy saving when it comes to keeping the stations cool. The heat from the tunnels would be partially blocked by the glass.

The proposal was originally rejected by Lawrence G. Reuter, president of New York City Transit from 1996 to 2007. Mr. Reuter mentioned retrofitting the entire subway system with doors was considered in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. However, both times it was rejected due to the complications of integrating such a vast addition into the system. After Reuter’s departure, the doors were reconsidered, but ultimately scrapped due to the additional cost it would entail–and also due to long-term maintenance concerns.