Riders waiting for the Red Line at South Station will no longer feel helpless as they peer into a dark tunnel hoping for a bright light.

That's because the station is now equipped with electronic signs that give an estimate of when trains will arrive, so riders can plan their trip accordingly.

"It is a day that our customers have been asking for for a long time," said Transportation Secretary Richard Davey today at the official launching of the signs at South Station. "People will now be able to see how long a train will be before getting to the platform. It is a low cost way to improve customer experience, and it has been a long time coming."

Davey said that Boston MBTA customers who have visited other cities with similar technologies, like New York City and Washington D.C., have asked, "Why not us?"


"Giving them information about train delays and arrival and departure times is key because that allows them to reduce some of their anxiety while waiting or potentially make a different choice."

The system was not specially built and designed for the program, Davey said, which was the most difficult part of putting it into play. However, he said, MBTA officials have spent a lot of time testing the system to make sure the technology was reliable.

"We had to make sure the data quality is good because at the end of the day if the data quality is not good, it's a useless sign," he said.

Park Street is next to get the signs, then Downtown Crossing, Davey said.

The total cost for the technology is $800,000 for the Orange, Red and
Blue lines, Davey said. The signs will not be available anytime soon.

"The Green line, for a variety of reasons, no, in part because we are doing a signal upgrade, so that's been our priority and once we get the upgrade complete, things like this, the countdown signs can be incorporated," Davey said.