Subways and Countdown Clocks

In a world where you might be stuck underground waiting for a subway train, a digital screen that can tell you when the next train is coming can be a godsend. If you live in a city with a modern train system, you are probably used to screens that announce train arrivals and don’t think anything of it. In New York, this is novel like a great white buffalo.

Well, it depends what train line you are on. And, for me, it’s not great. I take the A train and the train is often crowded or delayed; and when it is delayed, there’s usually not a “countdown” clock in sight.

That said, you can imagine my surprise when I spotted one of the countdown clock screens at the Dyckman Street stop on the A train.

Countdown Clock

While all you see is an ad to “Slow Down,” the screen is encouraging of future announcements to be displayed there. But, when you start to think a little more logically about it, you realize it doesn’t make much sense. This screen is on the uptown side of the platform. Given there’s only one more stop after this station, I don’t know how critical putting this screen there really was. If you put it on the downtown side, that would make at least a little more sense as there are many more stops to hit on the way south such that you’d really want to know when that next train is coming.

I seriously question the MTA’s ability to prioritize if putting this screen up on the downtown side of the track took precedence. And, to make matters worse, the screen is no longer working as of the last time I stopped to take a photo of it (see photo below)!

Non-Working Screen
Non-Working Screen

Here’s hoping they’ll at least focus their attention on fixing the track signal problems that continually delay the train and take a break from adding screens.