Richard Neitzel of the School of Public Health at the University of Washington and Robyn Gershon of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health conducted hundreds of measurements of noise levels at platforms and stations, as well as inside of vehicles on New York subways, buses, ferries, commuter railways and the Roosevelt Island tramway.
The study, scheduled to be published in the American Journal of Public Health in August, found that on average, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's subways had the highest noise levels, at 80.4 decibels, followed by the Path trains, at 79.4 dBA and the tram at 77 dBA.
The lowest average levels measured, 74.9 dBA and 75.1 dBA, were obtained from the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North trains, respectively. The very highest levels measured in the study were found on an MTA subway platform at 102.1dBA and at a bus stop 101.6 dBA -- a chainsaw is 100 dBA.
"At some of the highest noise levels we obtained such as on subway platforms, as little as two minutes of exposure per day would be expected to cause hearing loss in some people with frequent ridership," Neitzel said.