Pilot survey of subway and bus stop noise levels

Robyn R.M. Gershon, Richard Neitzel, Marissa A. Barrera, Muhammad Akram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Excessive noise exposure is a serious global urban health problem, adversely affecting millions of people. One often cited source of urban noise is mass transit, particularly subway systems. As a first step in determining risk within this context, we recently conducted an environmental survey of noise levels of the New York City transit system. Over 90 noise measurements were made using a sound level meter. Average and maximum noise levels were measured on subway platforms, and maximum levels were measured inside subway cars and at several bus stops for comparison purposes. The average noise level measured on the subway platforms was 86 ± 4 dBA (decibel-A weighting). Maximum levels of 106, 112, and 89 dBA were measured on subway platforms, inside subway cars, and at bus stops, respectively. These results indicate that noise levels in subway and bus stop environments have the potential to exceed recommended exposure guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), given sufficient exposure duration. Risk reduction strategies following the standard hierarchy of control measures should be applied, where feasible, to reduce subway noise exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)802-812
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Hearing protection devices
  • Mass transit
  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Sound level meter
  • Subway noise
  • Subway riders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Pilot survey of subway and bus stop noise levels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this