The MBTA countdown clocks can be helpful if you’re wondering how long you’ll have to stand on a platform waiting for your train — unless there’s a delay, of course, and you’re left starting at a digital sign that’s been saying a train is two minutes away, even though 10 minutes have passed.
Until now, thanks to an update rolling out on the MBTA countdown clock system on Tuesday.
Now, the MBTA has introduced “stopped-train” messaging to countdown clocks for the Red, Orange and Blue T lines as well as the Mattapan Trolley stops. (Green Line countdown clocks will see the change in the fall.)
Why the countdown clocks change?
The new countdown clocks feature comes as a response to customer feedback, MBTA officials said.
“This new features is in line with our ongoing mission to improve the customer experience,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez in a statement. “By addressing a common customer complaint, this improvement provides useful information to our customers while minimizing potential confusion caused countdown signs when trains are stopped.”
The stopped-train message works via the same real-time predictions that power the countdown clocks for the T. The new message will show when a train has spend two minutes longer than predicted in a certain area of train track.
Prior to this update, a train delay causes the countdown clocks to become “stuck,” per the MBTA, and continue to display the last estimated time of arrival instead of communicating that the train is at a standstill.
Along with seeing that a particular train is “stopped,” customers will see how far away the train still is not by time but by station. In a video example uploaded by the MBTA Twitter account, the countdown clock shows that an Ashmont Red Line train is “Stopped 2 stops away.”
The MBTA can’t have the clocks display how long a train will be stopped for, the agency explained, because officials don’t always know. It depends on the type of delay, whether a jammed door or a medical emergency.
The change follows a move by the MBTA in March to be more clear about train delays. Rather than saying on its social media accounts that trains are experiencing “minor,” “moderate” or “severe” delays, the transit authority began describing the delays in minutes.