Things New York City MTA could have done better: (Part Two)

This is a continuation of last week’s MTA blog post, which talked about turnstiles and metro-cards. This week I will talk about public address systems, signage, subway furniture, and the public art chosen by MTA for its train stations.

Public Address (PA) Systems:

MTA’s public address system is quite arcane, consisting of old speakers which are often too loud or scratchy to be heard properly.  It is beyond me, that while standing on an MTA platform, I receive a call on my cell phone and hear the caller quite clearly, but I have to strain to hear an MTA announcer speaking to me from multiple speakers on the same platform.  I don’t know why MTA can’t figure out the technology and acoustics of a PA system? Is it that complicated?

It is not just the speakers and bad acoustics; it is also what MTA announcers tell you, which happens to be very little.  They announce that there are delays due to a medical emergency, a police action or a switch problem, but won’t tell you whether the delay would be at the most 10 minutes or 30 minutes.   Why can’t MTA supervisors estimate the delay and tell the passengers how long it would take: if you happened to be in Grand Central station or Union Square you can switch to other trains.  It is obvious again that MTA doesn’t really care how delays are announced.


MTA’s signage system is also stuck in the last century.  Electronic signage should be employed broadly, and not just inside the stations but outside too, before riders get through the gates or turnstiles. These electronic signs should convey the information about delays or suspension of services and what other options are available to riders at that particular station or line.

Subway Furniture and Art:

NY subway system is way behind in providing appropriate subway furniture. The wooden bench is the most common stock furniture used in MTA stations:


Among the millions of transit riders, many are old or sick, and could use appropriate and comfortable seating at train stations. I do understand MTA’s concern of constantly chasing homeless from these seats, but on account of that, riders should not be deprived of some comfort.

Subway Art:

The MTA has been improving access to public art, with new art pieces as well as their new Arts for Transit App. However there are already too many mosaics in the system and there are other art mediums like sound, light, or mobiles.  I believe here again thinking out of the box would yield great results.

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