By Justin Tyndall, Edited by Nolan Levenson
New York City has had a heat wave this week, with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees five days in a row. Most New Yorkers know that the subway stations get excessively hot and humid. According to the folks at “L-Degrees”, the average temperature yesterday on an L train platform was 108° F, and with high humidity it felt substantially hotter. For comparison, in Death Valley, California yesterday the temperature was 115° F. Good thing the L train arrives every 3 minutes during rush hours.
Not only does the weather outside heat up the station, but air conditioners used to cool the subway cars create hot exhaust which adds additional heat. Due to the vast ventilation system of the subway, it is impractical to introduce air conditioning in stations. Additionally, there is a lack of space for the machinery that would be needed.
Other cities have air conditioned platforms, including Washington DC’s Metro, but New York’s more antiquated system may make such a retrofit difficult. Other systems including Dubai Metro, Singapore MRT, and the JFK AirTrain accomplish climate control with the help of platform screen doors which help keep the cooled platform air from escaping down the tunnels.
Hot temperatures on subway platforms may provide a reason for the MTA to consider exploring the possibility of installing platform screen doors, and perhaps, air conditioning in the long term. For the moment the best advice is to keep cool any way you can and keep in mind that the next air conditioned car will be there soon.