Home MTA Technology Subway signs enterting the 1990s

Subway signs enterting the 1990s

by Benjamin Kabak

It was a big weekend for the New York City subway as the MTA finally figured out that the 1990s started seventeen years ago. No longer will passengers be forced to stand at the platform’s edge peering into dark tunnels searching in vain for the faint glimmer of the headlines of an approaching train.

Instead, New York has finally caught up to London, Washington, D.C, and the vast majority of the world’s subway lines as they unveiled the first of what promises to be many boards notifying passengers just how far away that next train is.

As The Post noted over the weekend, these signs, pictured above, debuted on the L train a few days ago and should be “fully operational” in February. Considering that these other subway systems had long featured train notification, we should be more skeptical of the MTA and less celebratory.

But maybe the celebrations have been met with the appropriate levels of New York cynicism. As with all things MTA, the debut of these signs has been far from smooth. First, these signs were supposed to be unveiled last July, but as another who lived through the reconstruction of the 41st St. Times Square tunnel recontruction, MTA timetables are notoriously terrible.

More notable, however, was The Sun’s examination of the new signs after a few days of use.

The screens, which display departure times for two scheduled trains in each direction, regularly overestimated the time until a train’s arrival or else announced only a “Delay.” At some stations, the screens were not working at all, and displayed just one generic message: “This is a test. May not be accurate.”

The Sun also notes that these signs will only go up on the old IRT lines. So while the numbered subway lines, the city’s most popular routes, will get technology of, well, the past, the lettered subways of the city’s old BMT and IND lines still won’t run too frequently and passengers still won’t know when the next train is due in at their station.

Image courtesy of thelexiphane at Flickr.

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Marsha January 17, 2007 - 9:00 am

It’s pretty pathetic that the MTA can’t get the signs to be accurate and can’t get them on all subway lines.

Victoria January 21, 2007 - 8:45 pm

I think they’re not going to put them on the BMT and the IND because when people see “17 minutes,” they’ll start flipping out.

Wakefield852 July 1, 2007 - 8:12 pm

Clearly… those things are not preventing us from taking the Peer. When people see those signs overexaggerating the time (44 minutes till the next train), we just find ourselves peering down the tunnel.


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