Home MTA Technology Roberts wants to fix that whole public address problem

Roberts wants to fix that whole public address problem

by Benjamin Kabak

Oh, those pesky Rider Report Cards. The City Council thinks they were just a grand publicity stunt, but the MTA seems set on responding to the issues raised by the hordes of disgruntled riders.

After adding service on just two of the 22 lines in response to rider complains, the MTA is skipping the next two complaints — more room on board at rush hour and fewer delays — and moving on to the fourth complaint because they can actually solve this problem. In a stunning move, the MTA is planning on addressing the shortcomings in their public address system. They’re going to start by outfitting the remaining 86 stations currently lacking PA systems with the appropriate technology. Pete Donohue has more:

Every subway station should have a public-address system in about two years, NYC Transit President Howard Roberts declared [last week]. “I would like to be able to go into the Rail Control Center, pick up a microphone and speak to everybody that’s on every platform in the system,” Roberts said at a City Council Transportation Committee meeting.

Roberts, who became president last year, said he was surprised to learn that 86 of the 468 hubs lack public-address systems. He said he is seeking to secure funding in the MTA’s next capital plan, now being drafted, to rig up the hubs.

That’s not a mistake; nearly twenty percent of all New York City subway stops are without a public address system. The City Council members were not thrilled to hear this on Thursday, and many expressed concerns that the MTA is not adequately prepared for an emergency if they don’t have a way to communicate throughout the system. Of course, this criticism ignores the fact that the stations lacking PA systems are aboveground, but the point is still a valid one.

Now, it’s all well and good for the MTA to equip these 86 stations, but what about the PA systems in the other 382 stations? Right now, the PA systems in the subway run the gamut from the crisply audible to the unintelligible gibberish. If Roberts is serious about responding to concerns over the PA system, he would do well to look at how to get comprehendible public address systems installed in the subway.

Since most of the stations suffering from the gibberish syndrome are underground and in more populous and popular areas, it’s probably more important to address these problems than it is to outfit a few stations in the far reaches of the city’s outer boroughs with public address sytems that won’t be all that vital to subway operations.

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ScottE January 14, 2008 - 8:35 am

Deviating a bit from the original message, but still on the topic of PA systems, take a look at this article/blog entry in the New York times. A conductor who makes the rides on the 2 train a bit more pleasant by his use of the train PA system. I was on his train once during an evening rush-hour commute from Wall Street to Penn Station, and, after the first bit of awkward looks and confusion, passengers smiled and strangers started talking to one another. It was really nice, and I’d have liked to be on his train at least once more.

In a not-so-surprising move, the Transit Authority has pretty much put a stop to these announcements because of his deviation from the script.

Gary January 14, 2008 - 1:00 pm

Good to see they’re “publicly addressing” the problem. I’ll be here all week!

I do enjoy the deviations from the conductor script . . . they’ve long been a staple of Overheard In New York.

Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways » Blog Archive » Citizens Advisory Committee critique rehashes familiar territory January 17, 2008 - 1:10 am

[…] that 86 stations do not have public address systems. Coincidentally, NYCT head Howard Roberts announced plans to address this deficiency earlier this week. Do you think he had an advanced copy of the […]

Just how far can $1.3 billion go? :: Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog February 18, 2009 - 1:40 am

[…] 10 stations along the West End line in Brooklyn. Forty-three stations could receive their long-awaited public address systems, and the IRT platforms at Union Sq. may receive some new […]


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