Waiting on the subway platform in New York City during the summer feels like a trip to hell. Temperatures below ground can rise over 100 degrees, and the severely sweaty weather could get worse over time, thanks to global warming.
According to a draft report that surfaced, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo assembled a panel of transit experts last May to prepare and plan for challenges the Metropolitan Transportation Authority faced after the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. The panel, called the Transportation Reinvention Commission, found that global warming could cause a threat to the subway system.
"Extreme temperatures, particularly rising temperatures in the summer months, can stress the MTA system," the draft reads. "At higher temperatures, expansion joints on bridges and highways are stressed, and the instance of rail track stresses and track buckling increases."
Mother Nature should not take all the blame. The original design of the underground transportation system did not include the proper ventilation systems to cool it down. Back then, holes had to be poked in sidewalks to ventilate the platforms.
"Go to Union Square on not even a really hot day," says Richard Barone, the director of transportation programs at the Regional Plan Association. "Just because the way the station is designed. It's a steamer."
Trains now feature electronic and air conditioning systems that are fueling rising temperatures. Newer electronics, which are essential to the trains, are more sensitive to the heat.
"There comes a breaking point for us, as far as people fainting, health problems, people getting sick," Barone says. "At some of our stations, we're close to that tipping point where it's unbearable for the customer."
The panel has looked into copying London's lighter train cars that generate less heat as a possible solution, as well as adding more air-conditioned platforms like the barely effective 4, 5 and 6 platform at Grand Central Station.
The MTA is expecting to release the final report from "reinvention commission" in the near future.