I recently received a link from a New York City architect and public transportation commuter to a news article about a plan to use delayed egress locks on subway gates.  The intent is to make it more difficult for people to use the egress gates adjacent to the turnstiles to avoid paying the fare.  A couple of things strike me about this plan:

1) Delayed egress locks would not be allowed by the model codes for doors or gates serving assembly occupancies, so I was surprised to see that the 15-second delay on subway gates was approved by the AHJ.  Delayed egress locks are commonly used in airport terminals, but in my opinion the level of risk between the NYC subway and an airport terminal is not the same.  Although the subway gates would be required to release immediately upon fire alarm activation (and power failure), there are other types of emergencies that could cause a need for immediate evacuation.

2) If the AHJ’s approval did not exempt these gates from the other requirements listed in the code, an alarm will sound when someone attempts to exit, and after 15 seconds the door will unlock.  The New York City Building Code states:  Once the delay electronics have been deactivated, rearming the delay electronics shall be by manual means only.  To comply with this requirement, after the 15-second delay the gate will allow free egress until it is manually rearmed, with the audible alarm alerting subway riders to the opportunity to use the unlocked gate instead of paying the fare.

I see some flaws in the plan.  What do you think?

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