MTA is 'mediocre' at telling you when your train isn't running: report
The MTA is "mediocre at best" when it comes to letting straphangers know when their trains aren't running, according to a new report by a rider advocacy group.
A survey by the New York City Transit Riders Council found the MTA didn't post warnings that certain trains weren't running outside of nearly 40% of the subway stations the group checked last fall. They also found just as few signs inside the stations' mezzanines.
"Subway riders have come to expect when they ride on weekends, there are gonna be service diversions," said Andrew Albert, who chairs the Riders Council. "What they don't expect is how terrible the signage is to guide them on their way."
According to the council's report, 38% of the 48 stations surveyed had no signs at the entrance, 37% had none on the mezzanine, and 21% had none on the platform. Worst of all, five of the stations had no signs whatsoever, according to the report. Some people posted handwritten signs trying to tell straphangers what was going on.
"You shouldn't go down a series of steps and possibly even to the platform level before you realize your train is not running," Albert said Tuesday.
The group was also irked that more than a quarter of the stations surveyed didn't offer an alternative route if service had been canceled. Disabled riders were only notified of other handicapped-accessible ways to travel 53% of the time.
An MTA spokesman said the agency was adding 26 electronic signs in stations to provide real-time information before riders swipe their MetroCard, but said there were no plans to start posting signs outside of every station in the system.
"We agree with the Transit Riders Council that all MTA customers should be aware of service changes before they enter a station, and we share their long-term goal of providing that information," spokesman Kevin Ortiz said in an email.
"Unfortunately, posting both full-service directories and route-specific posters at the more than 2,100 station entrances in the MTA system is labor-intensive and costly."
Bill Henderson of the MTA's Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee said that posting more signs was worthwhile despite the added expense.
"There are things that are worth doing, and I think telling people what they can expect in terms of service is one of them," Henderson said. "If there's a change in service at a station, you should know before you pay your fare."
Straphangers gave the MTA mixed grades on keeping them informed about service disruptions.
"I've found the signs to be OK. They let you know what to expect," said Bobby Elliott, 23, a freelance writer from the Upper West Side. "Maybe for tourists it's tough, but I usually can navigate pretty well."
Gerard Renison, 25, an actor from Prospect Heights, said that getting around on the weekend is "quite annoying, especially if you're trying to get to Williamsburg." He said he frequently visits the MTA's website instead of relying on signs when he gets to the station.
"Sometimes you don't know until you actually get to the stop," Renison added. "But you gotta be aware, because the MTA always screws up service."
Among the Transit Riders Council’s recommendations to the MTA:
— Put up signs at each station that say exactly what is going on at that station. Station-specific signs are currently posted at only 55% of the stations.
— Post signs announcing service changes outside all stations, even if there's still some other service available at the station, so that riders can choose their route before they pay.
— Add electronic service announcement panels throughout the subway system. The MTA said it plans to add 26 of them.
— Offer riders a recommended alternative route whenever there's a service disruption, which doesn't always happen now. Also, tell handicapped riders which nearby stations are accessible to them.
— Improve the management system for tracking when and where signs are posted.