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Just how safe is riding on public transit in New York?

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), several million Americans rely on using different forms of mass transit including trains, buses, ferries and subways to get around on a daily basis. Researchers with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) suggests that the use of mass transit isn't slowing down either. Instead, it's growing more quickly than both highway use and the country's population.

In cities like New York, Seattle, Chicago and Washington, D.C., where residents are reliant upon use of mass transit for getting around, constant monitoring is performed to avert potential safety concerns. These efforts oftentimes fall short in their ability to deter potentially fatal incidents caused by poor maintenance, delayed safety rollouts or human error.

During the past 10 years, there have been a number of notable mass transit crashes throughout the United States.

There was an Amtrak commuter train derailment that occurred in Philadelphia in 2015. Eight died as a result and at least 200 others suffered injuries. Then, in January 2013, the Wall Street Seastreak ferry had an incident that resulted in 80 being injured. For 10 months starting in May of 2013, five incidents resulted in six Metro-North Railroad passengers' deaths and 126 other injuries.

Lessons have been learned and changes have been made along the way to try to avoid repeat incidents.

In an effort to reduce human error, administrators of these mass transit systems have begun requiring employees and encouraging riders to report near-miss events. They've also implemented systems aimed at detecting and managing worker fatigue.

In Atlanta, administrators over its subway system responded to data showing how conductors are often distracted by handheld electronic devices by instituting a zero-tolerance policy. Now, if it's determined a conductor used one of these devices during his or her shift, then he or she may be terminated.

The adoption of technology that would help warn of factors that could lead to a bus crash, alert captains of ships with potential onboard fires or slow speeding trains has been slow to be implemented. Audio and video black boxes have been sparingly used by administrators to track employee behavior as well.

If you've been seriously hurt while riding mass transit because of operator negligence, then a Queens attorney can advise you of your rights to file a personal injury lawsuit in your respective case.

Source: National Transportation Safety Board, "Make mass transit safer," accessed Jan. 10, 2018

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