Around 50 people die each year in the New York City subway system. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

61-year-old Wai Kuen Kwok died Sunday after being shoved in front of an oncoming train. The city has no plans to invest in protective barriers.

Early Sunday morning in The Bronx, 61-year-old Wai Kuen Kwok and his wife entered the 167 St. subway station in order to head to Manhattan's Chinatown for breakfast. They never made it. An unknown assailant shoved the couple in front of an oncoming southbound D train. Kwok was killed. His wife, who survived uninjured, was taken to the hospital for an evaluation. Police are stillinvestigating the identity of the assailant, who boarded a Bx35 bus immediately after exiting the station.

Every year, around 50 people lose their lives in the New York City subway system. The majority of these are suicides and most of the others result from accidental falls. Incidents like Kwok's are extremely rare: His was the first such death since December 2012, when Erika Menendez shoved a man of South Asian decent in front of an oncoming 7 train in Queens. Menendez was later convicted of murder and a hate crime.

Despite the unlikelihood of dying in the subway system, cities like Shanghai, Tokyo, and Paris have invested in barriers that open only when trains enter the station. New York City, though, is unlikely to follow suit.

The main problem, as usual, is money. Plastic barriers are very expensive, and would cost about $1 million per subway station. For New York's perennially cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the cost of installing barriers in each of the city's 468 stations would be prohibitive. Even then, engineers claim that installing the system would be logistically difficult due to physical differences in the trains and stations.

In lieu of making changes, the city has esorted to telling people not to worry about it. In 2013, then-mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed the idea of installing the barriers.

"It is such a rare occurrence that no matter how tragic it is, it shouldn't change our lifestyle," he said.

This article first appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    There’s a Tile Theft Epidemic in Lisbon

    With a single azulejo fetching hundreds of euros at the city’s more reputable antique stores, these tiles, sitting there out in the open, are easy pickings.

  2. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  3. Multicolored maps of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tampa, denoting neighborhood fragmentation

    Urban Neighborhoods, Once Distinct by Race and Class, Are Blurring

    Yet in cities, affluent white neighborhoods and high-poverty black ones are outliers, resisting the fragmentation shown with other types of neighborhoods.

  4. Equity

    Capturing Black Bottom, a Detroit Neighborhood Lost to Urban Renewal

    “Black Bottom Street View,” now exhibiting at the Detroit Public Library, thoughtfully displays old images of the historic African American neighborhood in its final days.

  5. Design

    The Curious Politics of a Montreal Mega-Mall

    The car-dependent suburb it’ll be built in wants to greenlight Royalmount against the city government’s wishes but it needs them to pay for the public infrastructure.