Monday, February 22, 2010

Train News

I blogged about the digital display testing on the 2-3-4-5 platforms awhile back, and it seems the MTA is going ahead with plans to implement the use of the displays for train arrival information in all numbered-line (IRT) stations by the end of the year. In order to cut costs and make the system work for lettered-line trains, however, the MTA is trying to use existing technology instead of installing the new gear you see on the L (and now on the 6 line in Bronx). The only drawback? The system doesn't know which trains are coming, just that something is moving down the line. As long as they can differentiate between express and local trains (and the signs in the press release suggest that they can), I think that's fine. If not, well, the only thing more annoying that standing for 20 minutes at the Franklin C stop as three A trains go whizzing by would be listening to an announcer's voice tell you that your train was about to arrive over and over.


  1. This is good news when waiting for the 2/3 or 4/5 from Franlkin Avenue going towards Manhattan - but does nothing if you are going from Franklin Avenue further into Brooklyn! I work near the Utica Avenue station and I have to take the 3 or the 4 - watching 2s or 5s pass me all morning doesn't get me to work. I am glad that it will help people in one direction - but I think it's crazy that they don't know what train is running on the tracks.

  2. @Liz I feel that pain, having lived off of the Utica Ave stop for four years, and was always sighing at the site of a Flatbush bound 2 or 5 train.

    The change in sign style seems to be part of new MTA chief Jay Walder's general philosophy of targeting immediate fixes on the most broken parts of the system, in lieu of system wide upgrades and changes. The other big example is the station renovation regime.

    Since the eighties the MTA has been fully renovating stations one at a time, think about Atlantic Ave or Utica Ave stations which have new tiles, more (not better) lighting, and most importantly handicap accessible platforms. However it was supposed to take thirty years to get all of the 468 stations in the system renovated. This clearly has not happened. Since the cost is always rising and stations are still leaky and platforms crumbling, the MTA announced that they will stop fixing stations fully, and start spot fixing leaks.

    The kind of sign in use on the L train depends on newer signal lights. Replacing signal lights is expensive and complicated, which is why many of the signal lights in the IRT are eighty years old. Without a new signal system, there's really not many options for knowing anything about a train once it leaves the station. Its actually amazing that the system runs as well as it does given that (I've heard) dispatchers only really know where a train is if they can see it.

    Anyway, we certainly can't get new signs that know the specific trains without a signal system that knows specific trains. The signs that we are getting are a better than nothing stop gap.

    On the other hand, Walder has also expressed an interest in upgrading big parts of the Lex, including signals, so that one or two more trains can run every hour during the rushes. The Lexington Ave line alone carries more riders than any other transit system in the country, so squeezing another 1,000 into a rush hour hour could make a difference.