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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