Gov. Hochul Requires MTA to Bring More Peace and Quiet to Subway Stations
By Yehudit Garmaise
New Yorkers who live near subway stations probably have gotten used to the noise, however, Gov. Kathy Hochul wants the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to reduce train the car screeching and railway clacking that can cause commuters and MTA workers to sometimes wince and plug their ears.
“Public transit should enhance New Yorkers’ quality of life, not disturb it,” said Gov. Hochul, who signed legislation last week that requires the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) to produce annual noise abatement reports that detail the agency’s efforts to reduce noise throughout the transit system. “This legislation will ensure New York City Transit is prioritizing communities’ concerns as our subways roar back to life and New York’s comeback continues.”
Gov. Hochul’s bill to reduce the subway noise that some New Yorkers report create stress, anger, pain, and even permanently hearing loss, follows up on one the state legislature passed way back in 1982, when NYCTA spent millions of dollars to create a quieter transit system, bought subway cars with quieter motors, provided new machines to straighten trains' steel wheels, so they would roll without scraping, and fitted wheels with stainless steel hoops to quiet ringing noises.
NYCTA, which improved the welding of rails to quiet the clacking of wheels over gaps and installed pumps that administer thousands of gallons of lithium-based grease onto the sides of tracks, also attempted to reduce the rumbling that is caused by the vibrations that the subway cars transfer to rails and trestles by installing resilient rubber pads beneath nearly all elevated rails and many underground rails.
In addition, tracks’ curves, where screeching is always the loudest, received up to 200 pumps of grease.
Despite those efforts, many experts, MTA workers and commuters sometimes report horrible noise conditions at dozens of stations around the city.
Critics and riders' advocates over the years have contended that city's efforts to reduce noise were minimal and barely met the requirements of the 1982 law, which was called the Rapid Transit Noise Code.
“Among the many responsibilities of the MTA there is an essential cornerstone, being a good neighbor,” said State Sen. Leroy Comrie. “Gov. Hochul’s noise abatement reporting legislation will allow New Yorkers and legislative leaders know what steps the authority takes on a year-to-year basis to mitigate impacts and will provide a transparent record of when and where resources are being or will be deployed.
“Our shared goal continues to be that the trains, buses and rail run on time, in the safest, most efficient and most community-friendly manner possible.”
A Boro Park resident, however, pointed out that people who live near or regularly ride the subways quickly adapt to the noise.
Instead of prioritizing noise reduction on the current subway system, the governor should update the city’s transit system to be more like Amtrak, which does not make any noise, said one Boro Parker.
“Besides for that, Gov. Hochul should take care of the crime and the many homeless people who are on the trains,” he said.