The circle and diamond designations for local and express trains seem rather familiar. (Photos by M. Roberts for the Daily News)
Ah, the good ol’ 7 line. More crowded that most U.S cities’ entire public transportation networks and long the testing ground for new MTA programs — how’s that project line working? — John Rocker’s favorite trains will again change the way it announces whether its trains are running express or local.
In October, the MTA introduced an LED light pilot program to help differentiate trains. The test lights were fairly straightforward: Trains whose LEDs read LCL were going local, and those with LED lights that said EXP were, obviously, going express.
Yesterday, the MTA unveiled the results of this LED light indicator test. As Pete Donohue reported, 7 trains will be equipped with red diamonds or green circles to indicate express or local service, respectively. Donohue writes:
NYC Transit has begun rolling out subway trains with new digital signs brightly declaring if they are running express or local: a red diamond for express, a green circle for local. The first train fully loaded with the broadsides hit the rails during [Monday's] rush. More subway cars will be rigged in the coming weeks and months.
“It looks sharp,” No. 7 line General Manager Louis Brusati said of the markings. “It will immediately tell people what train it is.”
NYC Transit President Howard Roberts said: “It is another step in making the ride on the No. 7 line as smooth and effortless as possible.”
Transit officials hope to trim train delays by making it easier to identify express and local trains. Service announcements are made on trains and in stations, but riders often are puzzled.
Now, I’m all for bringing in new technology for our subways, and that’s what New York City Transit is doing with these line manager programs on the L and 7. Donohue notes that digital communication signs on station mezzanines along these two lines will be rolled out in the next two months. These signs could give information about train delays or route changes. I’m not quite sure how the 7 and L trains can really change their route, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact that these technologies are on the way is a major achievement.
I am still stumped though about this seemingly new way to indicate express or local service along the 7 line. Back in the day — and by “the day,” I mean the late 1990s — 7 trains used their rollover signs for this designation. Diamond 7′s always ran express while circle 7′s always ran local. But at some point in the last few years, NYCT employees decided that it was too hard to change a bunch of rollover signs during depot stops, and so passengers grew so confused that the MTA had to install something new over a system that was already in place.
We don’t know how much this LED light program costs, but considering that the MTA is not really in a position to spend frivolously right now, I have to wonder if asking employees to take the time to turn the rollover signs would really be that inconvenient right now. There’s really no point in installing an unnecessary technology on top of something that isn’t yet obsolete.