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Advocates say MTA has room to improve service disruption warnings

Advocates released a new study that suggests low-tech tweaking of subway posters and higher-tech fixes to improve the service interruption experience

The New York City Transit Riders Council released a 65-page study that suggests low-tech tweaking of subway posters and higher-tech fixes to the MTA website to improve service interruptions.  Credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images The New York City Transit Riders Council released a 65-page study that suggests low-tech tweaking of subway posters and higher-tech fixes to the MTA website to improve service interruptions.
Credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

If New Yorkers can count on anything, they can count on at lest one of the city's 23 subway lines to undergo construction at least once a week.

And while most begrudgingly adapt to a series of reroutes and suggested alternatives, transit advocates said Wednesday that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority can make small changes to alleviate what can often turn into big headaches.

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The New York City Transit Riders Council released a 65-page study that suggests low-tech tweaking of subway posters and higher-tech fixes to the MTA website to improve the service interruption experience.

"It's really just about providing better context and more clarity to customers," said Bill Henderson, executive director of the Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.

The report notes the increasing number of service diversions, and how much more intense they are as the transit agency has committed to improving the system post Superstorm Sandy.

But as foot traffic increases even during off-peak, weekend hours — the report notes the L train's Morgan stop in Bushwick saw weekend ridership increase by 174 percent between 2005 and 2010 — the need to warn customers about interruptions efficiently is even more important, Henderson said.

The signage posted around any of the 468 stations citywide ahead of interruptions is limited to an tabloid-size sheet of paper to offer service change information that the MTA said is already carefully designed.

The advocates, who in 2012 also worked with the MTA to improve diversion communications, offered a number of suggestions including better graphical representations of routes and a more interactive map on the MTA website to offer temporary routes for passengers.

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said that the authority will look into the recommendations, adding that small tweaks to the graphics and website are possible.

"Our numbers are based on market research studies that illustrate customers have what they need to navigate around service disruptions," Ortiz added.

While open to improvement, Ortiz said the MTA's own surveys report a nearly 80 percent rate of satisfaction with information published for interruptions, up from 69 percent in 2010.

Yet the riders council is hopeful that the MTA will again listen to suggestions laid out by its three-month survey.

"We're not talking bout going out and putting together a new concept — just expanding what they've already done," Henderson said.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria

 
 
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