Lettered subway riders dreaming of the day when they too can know when their train is arriving are closer to that dream now that the MTA has started testing countdown clocks on those lines.
As of Thursday, the MTA began a 90-day test of countdown clocks in eight subway stations along the N, Q and R lines. Testing will be performed at the 23rd Street, 28th Street, 34th Street, 42nd Street, 49th Street, 57th Street, 5th Avenue/59th Street and Lexington Avenue/59th subway stops, and will include two countdown clocks with enhanced LCD screens, according to the transit agency.
These LCD screens “have the added capability of exhibiting public service announcements and other content — a step forward from the LED digital display screens currently in use.” The 90-day test of the clocks will help identify and correct any issues with the new system.
The MTA on Thursday also awarded three contracts to perform a pilot program on 131 buses for the installation of digital information screens, with the aim of extending them to 3,600 buses. The routes included are the M15 SBS, B46 SBS and S79 SBS. Each digital screen will offer audio and visual route information and display next stop information, service advisories and travel information, including transfers. They will also open the possibility for new digital advertising revenue for the MTA.
The digital information screens and countdown clocks are part of the $27 billion, five-year MTA Capital Program.
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“Governor Cuomo challenged the MTA to develop an aggressive approach to putting countdown clocks on the lettered lines, and our technology team’s response has been phenomenal. In very short order they developed an easy to deploy, cost-effective system that we think will play a central role in bringing this essential service to more and more of our customers. We look forward to learning from this test, as well as to developing a roll out plan based on our findings “ MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said.
Countdown clocks currently serve 176 stations, including the L line’s 24 stations, and will eventually be installed throughout all 269 lettered-line stations. For some more insight on why it’s taken so long to install countdown clocks in lettered-line stations, then check out this Atlantic article.