Are subway platforms really as hot as the inside of a rotisserie, or does it just seem that way? On Thursday, August 9, 2018, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) sent out an intrepid task force of staff and interns to measure the temperature in the city’s ten busiest subway stations. The temperature outside was 86 degrees. The data they collected helped to inform a report titled, “Save Our Subways: A Plan To Transform New York City’s Rapid Transit System.”
Above ground high temperature (above ground): 86 degrees
Highest temperature recorded on a platform: 104 degrees (14-Street Union Square
Downtown 4/5/6 Platform)
Average temperature recorded on platforms: 94.6 degrees
The oppressive heat in underground subway stations isn’t just a nuisance, it poses a serious health risk–for subway workers as well as paying customers. According to the NYC Health Department, “A heat index above 95°F is especially dangerous for older adults and other vulnerable individuals.” The city issues a heat advisory when the heat index is expected to reach 95 to 99 degrees for two or more consecutive days, or 100 to 104 degrees for an time at all.
According to a 2015 Academy of Sciences report, the average temperature in New York City has increased by 3.4 degrees between 1900 and 2013. It’s definitely time to turn down the heat on subway platforms. The RPA report suggests several ways the MTA could leverage modern technology like regenerative braking and CBCT–which they are already in the process of installing–to cool off subway platforms by reducing the heat generated by trains.