MTA iPhone pilot on E line attempts to better communication

E train conductors and platform controllers systemwide will receive iPhones this week as part of a pilot to increase communication of delays and service changes. / Samantha Wieder

MTA workers are getting iPhones to help relay information on delays and service changes, according to the agency.

The MTA will be distributing 230 iPhone 6s devices to platform workers and train operators by the end of the week, officials said.

“Providing clearer, more timely information for customers is an essential piece of the Subway Action Plan,” MTA spokesman John Weinstein said in a statement. “We’re focused on better customer service, and through this pilot we’ll be able to convey real-time information quickly to our staff who can better inform our passengers about service.”

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The phones will receive text messages from the agency’s Rail Control Center, or RCC, detailing delays: What caused them, how long they’re expected to last and which alternative routes commuters could take. Workers are then expected to pass along the information to riders.

Train conductors on the E line will receive 90 phones, with the remaining 140 going to platform controllers at stations systemwide where they monitor crowds and assist passengers. Conductors typically communicate with RCC via radio, but usually in esoteric transit jargon. The text messages will serve as a guide for how conductors can plainly and simply relay info to riders, Weinstein said.

Conductors have been advised that they should acknowledge and read messages only after train doors have been closed and the train has departed the station. Workers are also barred from using the phones for personal use.

It was not immediately clear how much the project will cost.