We learned yesterday of new audio announcements concerning train arrival information for a handful of stations in Astoria, and today, I have more information concerning the tracking technology. While the project is mostly a one-off implemented at the request of Astoria’s Assembly representatives, it’s a bit more useful than I first thought.
Notably, the countdown is in minutes — not stations — with audio announcements beginning when the next two trains are within six minutes of the station. The announcements arrive every two minutes with the latest on moving trains and are also audible in the station vestibules. For cold weather days, this will come in handy. There are no plans to incorporate this type of information into a visible countdown clock, but the MTA says it is moving ahead with an effort to bring clocks to the B Division — all lettered subway lines — within three to five years.
So what’s the plan then? According to an MTA spokesman, the agency aims to “get to where we are in the A Division in terms of the same level and type of information,” but the Astoria treatment is independent of that effort. (In Astoria, the announcements are tied into prior signal upgrades.) For now, the MTA is focusing on capturing train arrival information through dispatch and schedule information, and eventually, this data will be made public. The second step involves developing a viable countdown clock implementation. With 132 more stations, nearly 80 more route miles and over 104 more peak trains in service (317 vs. 203), the B Division is much larger than the A Division. We’ve waited this long; what’s another five years?