Home MTA Technology Transit’s ‘On The Go’ kiosks set for wider expansion

Transit’s ‘On The Go’ kiosks set for wider expansion

by Benjamin Kabak

A 2011 demonstration led by Paul Fleuranges introduced the On The Go kiosks to the subway system. Photo courtesy of New York City Transit.

This story has been making its way through the procurements approval process this week, and with an MTA Board vote in favor of the deal, Transit announced today that its ‘On The Go’ informational kiosk pilot program will soon spread throughout the subway system. In conjunction with two vendors — CBS Outdoor and Control Group Inc. — as part of the pilot’s second phase, Transit will install at least 77 more kiosks over the next few years. Best of all is the cost. The MTA will pay out no money for this arrangement but has the opportunity to draw in some dollars.

The “On The Go” kiosk program launched in September 2011 at five stations in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. These touchscreen devices over travelers information about trips and trip-planning, real-time subway status, escalator and elevator and neighborhood maps. Third-party developers have loaded on apps with related information, and the devices provide news and weather as well.

“Taken together, this is an unprecedented amount of information made available to subway and commuter rail customers. These state-of-the-art customer communications kiosks provide instant information that makes using the transit system more efficient,” MTA Interim Executive Director Thomas F. Prendergast said today in a statement. “The positive feedback we have received via our website or Twitter account has confirmed that our customers have embraced this new technology improving their riding experience.”

To expand the current pilot, the MTA is licensing with CBS Outdoor and Control Group Inc. The two licensees will purchase the kiosks and deliver them to Transit for installation. The MTA estimates that the kiosks will cost around $15,000 each, but as part of this public-private partnership, the licensees will pay these costs. The two companies will then retain 90 percent of the gross advertising receipts until the capital investment in the kiosks is recouped. Once costs are recovered, Transit’s percentage of the receipts will increase from 10 percent to 65 percent. It is unclear how long it will take for advertising to cover the costs of the kiosks, but this program expansion comes at no real cost to the MTA.

With this expansion, CBS and Control Group Inc. will have more freedom to design the touch-screen interfaces and to customize the applications available in the devices. Transit plans to evaluate customer perceptions and the technology while plotting out potential future expansion efforts. For now, the 77 kiosks will be installed in at least 16 new stations, but the order has an option for 43 additional kiosks should the MTA approve.

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BBnet3000 March 13, 2013 - 12:47 pm

Are they reliable? The only time i actually tried to use one (at Grand Central to check that the 7 was running before walking all the way down to it) it was broken…

Benjamin Kabak March 13, 2013 - 12:48 pm

Dunno. The ones at GCT always have people waiting on line to use them. Probably could obviate the need for these with a quicker expansion of subway cell service.

D.J. March 13, 2013 - 2:27 pm

I regularly use the Bowling Green station, which has had one for a while, and I find it very useful, but maybe not for the reason the MTA intended.

The default screen shows all the lines on the left, with the same “Good Service”/Delay/”Planned Work”/etc. indicators as on mta.info. I like the kiosk because it’s very easy, as I’m walking into the station, to double check that all the lines I’m about to use say “Good Service.” The screen is big enough that the text is easily readable as you’re walking by. If one of them doesn’t say “Good Service,” it’s a trivial task to touch the line, and then the exact details of the service disruption are displayed. For me, that’s been awesome.

Of course, it also means that when tourists are actually using the other aspects of the display (and therefore the main screen isn’t up), it’s completely useless to me.

AG March 13, 2013 - 10:37 pm

yeah – I thought one of the main reasons is because tourism has become such a big part of the city’s economy – that these kiosks were mainly for their use…?

Someone March 13, 2013 - 7:16 pm

Usually. I like the features of the info kiosk, though the one at GCT is always surrounded by a crowd.

BruceNY March 13, 2013 - 1:27 pm

“…it was broken”. And there you have it, just like so many metrocard machines that “temporarily cannot accept cards” and the others that “cannot accept bills”.
I wish the MTA would stop looking to find new ways to spend money on expensive new bells & whistles and just try to keep what they have in better working order.
Or maybe they could even spend some of this money on replacing some missing wall tiles, fixing leaks, and scrubbing the grime off every surface.

VLM March 13, 2013 - 1:32 pm

I see you missed the part in the story where it says the MTA isn’t paying any money for these and gets to enjoy a split in advertising revenue instead. Why not do it if the MTA is spending a whopping $0 on this?

FWIW, I’ve used the one at Atlantic Ave. before. I’ve never seen it broken.

TP March 13, 2013 - 1:54 pm

Could we get advertisers to pay to have private cleaning crews come keep the stations clean? I’d take an electronic board advertising some garbage in return for not having to dodge garbage to get to the train.

Someone March 13, 2013 - 7:17 pm

Could we get advertisers to pay for platform screen doors? Could we get them to wipe graffiti off trains?

CC March 14, 2013 - 11:54 am

The MTA loves cost neutral revenue share agreements. Because they know their labor force sucks, management sucks, and if they maintain it, it will fall apart. This method is the only way you will see QOS improvements in Ops going forward, because it is a back door to sole sourcing and competitive labor rates.

Example: Compare MTA Bus Co and NYCT Bus to see which one is more efficient, especially in contracts which MTA Bus Co. still can outsource which NYCT has the TWU perform.

asar March 13, 2013 - 3:20 pm

Im not suprised really, they have one of them on the2345 side at atlantic ave -barclays ctr

Someone March 13, 2013 - 7:17 pm

Which platform?

Chicken Underwear March 14, 2013 - 2:10 pm

It gives tourists something to do


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