MTA’s Andy Byford declares war on falling subway track debris

The MTA’s transit boss declared war on gravity on Friday, pledging to do everything humanly or mechanically possible to keep debris from falling from elevated subway tracks after a series of high profile incidents.

Byford’s multi-pronged strategy involves closer inspections to find debris before it falls — as well as new basket and netting designs to catch it when it does.

“I take this very seriously,” he told reporters during a media availability in the Bronx. “Even one thing falling is one too many.”

Byford has faced a spate of falling debris incidents this year, although he said the number of incidents has remained steady year-over-year.

After a giant piece of metal fell from the A train track in Queens through a livery cab’s rear window-shield on Oct. 29, transit workers conducted a system-wide inspection of all 325,000 elevated track debris-containment baskets.

On Friday, Byford’s just-appointed Chief Track Officer Terri Rumph showed off new basket-style retainers that can be installed from above the track — without impacting road traffic — and will more effectively catch falling debris than the current design.

Rumph and Byford also touted a new bolt design that features a “hard lock nut” to prevent loosening over time.

The MTA’s upcoming capital plan includes $325 million to roll out debris-stopping measures across the subway’s 60 miles of elevated tracks. Transit officials are currently testing out netting designs, with the hope that they can be rolled out system-wide.

Even then, Byford said his team faces an uphill battle.

“We are doing our damnedest to stop these incidents from even happening,” he said — while admitting he could not “guarantee” success.

“We’re basically fighting gravity,” he said.

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