As Summer Temperatures Climb, Here Are Ways To Cool The Subways

Now that summer is here, temperatures are climbing and hitting record highs. More often than not, many commuters are feeling the heat (and then some) simply while waiting for trains in many of New York City’s underground stations.

In our latest report, Save Our Subways: A Plan To Transform New York City’s Rapid Transit System, we recommend a number of ways that New York City Transit can create healthier station environments for its customers. Day after day, commuters are exposed to environmental health risks which include excessive noise, poor air quality and heat in many of the City’s subway stations. On recent record, temperatures have climbed to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. These scorching temperatures undoubtedly pose serious health risks to riders and transit employees, which in turn can result in more sick passenger delays.

As New York City Transit moves forward with implementing its Fast Forward NYC plan, here are a few recommendations for cooling the subways:

  • Design future subway lines to generate less heat and be more energy efficient: Future subway lines can be engineered to allow for more energy efficient and less heat generating performance. Additionally, turns can also be designed to reduce the need for unnecessary braking between stations and to maximize the benefits of coasting.
  • Pump the brakes to reduce heat. Regenerative braking can potentially reduce the amount of heat generated by braking trains as well as the amount of energy required to operate the subway.
  • Rethink how to cool subway cars. Believe it or not, air conditioning subway cars has added an excessive amount of heat into the system. And moving from a sweltering station (indoor or outdoor) isn’t the healthiest for commuters. An easy solution could be to reduce the amount of air conditioning in cars so that they generate less heat.
  • Open up stations to light and air. Many of the train stations across the New York Transit subway system have designs that are out-dated and create lots of crowding on platforms – which in turn increases heat and limits circulation. To combat this problem, the MTA should consider decluttering station platforms of non-essential uses so that they can be widened.  Additionally, vertical circulation can be improved by adding new stairways, mechanized access and taking other measures to enhance accessibility.

For more recommendations on how the NYC transit system can be improved, read the entire Save Our Subways report by clicking here, and explore our interactive website here. 


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  1. 2
    Cleopatra Browne

    My name is Cleopatra Browne I a staff of the Manhattan Borough President, this morning I was at my wits end with MTA I left my house 5.57am Rosedale Queens to commute to Manhattan for 8am. The nightmare started when the 6 am bus came to early so I got to the bus stop 6am someone told me the bus pass by at 5.50am so I guess if you trying to get the 6am screw you. Thank God for the van drivers that run $2.00 van service I got to the train station promptly and boarded the J Train at 7.11 the train took about 20minutes to pull off which is normal but on the train after we passed Broadway Junction the lights and engine when off and everyone was sitting in quiet and darkness for 20 minutes before the conductor said they experiencing difficulties we would be moving shortly. Other trains were flying by us we not in a station just in transit not moving the air was shut off and the conductor didn’t communicate with us for a whole 35 minutes repeating we would be moving shortly. We never moved we were in a locked up train with no air condition for 1 hour and 35 minutes then they announced that the train is going out of service and we need to walk through carts to the front of the train to exit and go over to the other side of the platform and take a Queens bound train back to Broadway and then take another J or A back in the opposite direction to reach Manhattan. Remember I let my house at 5.57am to get to work and because of MTA I got to work at 8.35am. I am appealing to anyone who help us from this bully MTA that is taking our fares and taking advantage of customers.

  2. 4

    You missed the obvious one: Make subway car doors open on passenger button press, like in Europe, not *every door* of the train at *every stop*. That just dumps all the cool air out, and the hot air in, so the A/C has to start all over again. Incredibly wasteful. You still need guards to close the doors, and for safety, just why open ALL the doors when they are not needed?

    Likewise the opposite in winter on cold above ground platforms. Keeps the heat in.

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