Open Phones: Your Ways to Improve the NYC Subway

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Designer Randy Gregory has started a Tumblr for his "100 Ways to Improve the NYC Subway" -- one idea a day from odor detectors to a LaGuardia AirTrain. We discuss some of his ideas, and take your suggestions. How would you improve the NYC subway? Ideas big or small, realistic or far-fetched, post your here or call 212-433-9692.


Randy Gregory

Comments [52]

Kaboom Schneider from Bellevue

Have a crazy detector at every station to keep the lunatics off the platforms and trains.

Jun. 19 2013 01:14 AM

The "soundproof foam" idea is based on lack of understanding of acoustics. Cars could possibly use more sound insulation inside walls and floors, but to really reduce noise intrusion from outside of the car double pane glass and double layer doors with double seals and double pane windows would be needed. You can't put sound absorbent surfaces inside cars to reduce noise reflection inside because those surfaces are by definition not cleanable or need particular cleaning, and there is already no cleaning beyond trash pickup and sweeping and occassional mopping. Upholstered seats would help but they do not exist because of the expense of cleaning and allowing of food and drinks. Not even unpadded upholstery panels on the seats like other systems and some buses use. Or god forbid actual sprung, padded, and upholstered seats like on the London Tube.

Jun. 18 2013 12:30 PM

The MTA has a system on their website to send messages to MTA. You get a boilerplate email response with no possibility of reply. In other words, it is designed to make you think you sent them a message which they ignore and there is no followup. Eventually you realize it is a pointless sham.

Jun. 18 2013 12:20 PM

Re: LiLopez: Yes, yes, yes. Allowing people to bang on paintcans or whatever on already extremely noisy platforms is another example of the lack of enforcement of subway rules by arrogant and uncaring MTA management. In London tube they have marked Busker spots and no one gets to do anything anywhere else. And the public knows that if someone isn't playing there, they are illegal. And it is enforced.

Jun. 18 2013 12:16 PM
Chris Leonard from Brooklyn

The NYC subway system is but one of the many American infrastructure projects in need of major upgrade, repair and focus on a sustainable future. Rather than sending hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms to Syrian opposition (which no US citizen knows first hand with authority who they are) - and buying 750 million bucks worth of war choppers for Afghanistan's army - isn't it reasonable to state that that 1 billion plus expenditure (taking place over the next few weeks) help Chicago, Philly, NYC public schools, higher ed and such infrastructure needs in THIS country? Who have the previous administration and current admin served?

Jun. 18 2013 12:12 PM

The new subway cars finally have modern suspension systems but also have the worse seats ever in any subway system in the world ever. Unsegmented little lenghthwise benches. Has anyone in management ever sat on them? They are a symbol of the arrogance of MTA management and are designed only to torture patrons and make them glad they didn't get a seat and had to stand.

Jun. 18 2013 12:11 PM

In stations like West 4th, where there are multiple levels of parallel tracks, have the announcement be 'the next uptown train is now arriving on the upstairs track or downstairs track' instead of local or express, since there are local and express tracks on both levels.

Then again if the countdown clocks ever come to the ABCDFM lines, we wouldn't need these announcements.

Jun. 18 2013 12:10 PM
ben from manhattan

The subway cars should have emergency exits. If there was ever a fire or terrorist attack, there is presently no way to get out of the cars.

Jun. 18 2013 12:10 PM
Tim from East Village

Standing room only...I heard of an idea years ago of having fold-up seating in the middle cars on a train, which would lock in the closed position during rush hour. Of course, there would still be seating available in other cars for those that need it. But the trains could fit a lot more people comfortably during rush hour, thus minimizing the "sardine effect".

Jun. 18 2013 12:08 PM

Enforce laws about begging on trains and selling food on subway platforms. I tried to get them to enforce the food selling rules by talking to station agents who said "They have to make a living too" and on the phone to MTA security who basically said they didn't care. When police (rarely) are on the platform or in a car, they just hide or go to another station. Plainclothes police are obviously needed but MTA refuses to do anything.

Jun. 18 2013 12:08 PM

Stop the music! Stop the buskers! There is enough noise in the subway from trains -- why add to it? Why force everyone to listen to something only a few may want to hear? Why force people to have their ears assaulted after a long day at work by "drummers" on paint cans and general caterwauling? Can't we just be quiet and read the papers, or play on our smartphones, or have a conversation with our companions? What we have now defies civility and common sense.

Jun. 18 2013 12:08 PM
Ryan from NYC

How about putting those countdown clocks, which let you know when the next train is coming, at the subway entrances rather than on the platforms. This way you can wait to enter the subway instead of standing on the hot platforms waiting.

Jun. 18 2013 12:03 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Definitely make more (preferably all) stations accessible. I know this will take time & money, but it's worth doing.

Add to the announcements one that reminds people not to stand in the doorway when they get on. Too many people seem to think no one will want to get on after them & just stand there blocking the doors while they're open. ("Step all the way into the car" doesn't count--it sounds like you shouldn't leave any body parts sticking out the doors!)

Jun. 18 2013 12:02 PM
Gan Ainm from Pearl River, NY

I'm a daily subway rider:

A city-wide competition for the cleanest most attractive station. A monetary award, too. With community groups pitching in to have beautiful/clean stations. Just some regular cleaning with some bleachy water would help.

While I'm at it with my wish list, some strict enforcement of NYC anti-spitting ordinances. It's a regular plague, so to speak, of spitting in the stations and streets. Please, people.

Jun. 18 2013 12:02 PM

Actually clean platforms. The yellow edge strip is usually black. Buy gum removal floor cleaning machines and use them. Tax gum sales like cigarettes - what do you think all those black spots all over platforms and sidewalks are?

Jun. 18 2013 12:01 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

If there was an FOB type "smartcard." that can be refilled from an app on your smart phone, or you if can actually use your smartphone to "tap and go" - that would save so much time.

It's silly that one still has to go to a station to re-fill or buy a metrocard.

Jun. 18 2013 12:00 PM
Matt from Brooklyn

Anti-bacterial hand sanitizers are horrible for the environment and a hazard for fresh water. Bacteria is a necessary thing. Please look at the cost to the environment and fresh water before pursuing this further. Anti-bacterials should be used only when really necessary.

Jun. 18 2013 12:00 PM
Randie from Astoria to Manhattan everyday

How about no more voice announcements of any kind? In Japan, everything is visual - on screens where everyone can see. That way, no one has to try to hear about the subway train itself, other people, or their own music, and we can all get some aural peace for a change! Love the idea of the soundproof foam, by the way...

Jun. 18 2013 12:00 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Remove the vertical poles near the doors -- put them in the middle of the cars, so people will actually MOVE into the cars instead of clustering -- sheep-like -- near the doors.

No more of those seats that are contoured -- they don't fit the average overweight person and sometimes we are stuck with a seat with the crown right in our butt!

Also, the metrocard purchase amount should be a discreet number of rides, with no amount left over that tends to either be discarded or a pain to use up. The partial amount used on a bus is a pain -- you have to use another card and then you can't use that card to do a transfer to another bus!

Jun. 18 2013 11:59 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Just listening to that comment about the integrated smart card. You'll think it's less smart if you lose it or it's stolen and someone else empties your account!

Jun. 18 2013 11:58 AM
Robert from NYC

I have to admit I don't understand the idea of bikes on the subway! You have bike, ride it! In Milan you pay extra if your luggage is larger than an established size. Should we charge for large pieces and bikes and unfolded baby carriages? Go ahead boo me. At least limit them at rush hours.

Jun. 18 2013 11:58 AM
Sam from manhattan

Improve the subways by: 1. sizing seats appropriately-considering the growing size of new yorkers; 2. issuing summons to those who use more than one seat (by opening their legs widely, using the next seat for packages or laying down for a nap on the seats). 3. issuing summons to those who ride in front of and blocking car doors. 4. Issuing summons to those who keep their backpacks on their back blocking the movement inside the car. 5. Make public addressing sound systems intelligible on cars and in stations.

Jun. 18 2013 11:58 AM
Bernie from UWS

A lot of this sounds like putting lipstick on a pig. How about getting to the real issue: the fact that NY's subway stations are filthy and disgusting?

I'd propose adding steam cleaning apparatuses with bleach in each station.

Even more generally, how about fixing the broken tiles and cleaning off the gum and other grime on the floors?

Jun. 18 2013 11:58 AM
Nick from UWS

We need strip maps of each line in each subway car, like in London and Paris. We need to reduce all the goddamn advertising in the cars and put some goddamn useful information in the cars like strip maps over each door and over the lines of seats so that you can see where you are going. And they don't need to be electronic or interactive or all the rest of the useless hocus pocus which break every goddamn 5 minutes. USE SOME GODDAMN COMMON SENSE MTA

Jun. 18 2013 11:57 AM
Brian from BK

Stop nickel and diming the ridership.

Jun. 18 2013 11:57 AM


For the improved PA system!!! You can actually understand announcements - most of the time!!

Jun. 18 2013 11:57 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Metrocard machines on platforms is a great idea.

Also, no cell phone service. Don't do it.

Jun. 18 2013 11:55 AM
Guy from Guy

This is easy.
Finish putting electronic schedule/time signs on all lines.
Ventilate the platforms.
Actually test PA systems in cars to see if they work.
Put the !?*&$ trash cans back.

Jun. 18 2013 11:55 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Not the subway itself, but give us a way to check the balance on our Metrocards without having to take them to a subway station. Not all NYers live close to one, & it's easy to lose track of how much is on your card. Oh, for the days when you could just count your tokens!

PS: Hand sanitizers in subway stations *sound* great, but wouldn't they need to be refilled 10 times a day? And I've seen too many people get on a subway elevator & immediately push "Door Close" to keep anyone from getting on after them to advocate an override for the "Door Open" button.

Jun. 18 2013 11:54 AM
Bill D from SI NY

Clean this disgusting stinkhole you call a subway!
The only reason people still use the subway is because it is a monopoly, there really is no other choice.
Would you patron an establishment that had decades of filth, smelled like sh*t and piss, puddles of heroin vomit everywhere, and rats running rampant????
No one in there right mind would!!

The subway should be put under the control of the city and cleaned up!

Jun. 18 2013 11:54 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

As they keep making announcements "If you see something, say something," they should have staff around to whom one can say something.

Also, when they hire contractors to redo the stations, they should get a lifetime guarantee from them that there will be NO LEAKS, and any leaks that spring after the work is complete need to be repaired for free by the contractor.

Jun. 18 2013 11:54 AM
Brian from BK

Coordinate the arrival and departure of different trains. The timing of individual lines needs to be synched. I can't tell you how many times I'm getting off the B train, see the R across the platform and the second the doors open the R's are closing and it leaves. This would be fine if the spacing were urgent, but the next R train always takes at least 10 more minutes to arrive. The number of hours of people's lives that are wasted because of this is insane.

Jun. 18 2013 11:54 AM
Yusef Ali Jeffries-El from Brooklyn

Make the windows at the front of the trains 100% transparent, as opposed to the polarized glass in new trains, which although they provide privacy for the train operator, they make it very difficult to look through.

Jun. 18 2013 11:53 AM
fuva from harlemworld

STRICT no litter policy. Enforced on every train and platform. Will improve MTA hygiene and employment, while simultaneously PROMOTING NO-LITTER ETHIC THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

Also, restrooms.

Jun. 18 2013 11:53 AM
M. L. from Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Smart cards that are sturdier plastic, can be refilled (at a machine or online), and are contactless. Not a novel idea--I've seen these cards in other major cities in the U.S.--but it would at least make going through the turnstiles faster.

Jun. 18 2013 11:53 AM
Larry from Brooklyn

1. Fans on the platforms! Brutal heat.
2. Have the G-train be a normal line. No weekend shuttles, normal length. It's used more now.

Jun. 18 2013 11:52 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Ah, subway specific improvements. GET RID OF THE METROCARD.

London and other systems have touch or tap base - FOB type cards for years.

They are quicker and don't require as much maintenance as swipe based cards.

Jun. 18 2013 11:52 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

1) DON'T implement cell-phone service!
2) Get rid of so much of the useless, gratuitous messages in the stations: we are CONSTANTLY BOMBARDED by them -- they are NOISE!
2) Better training for the conductors -- they are so inconsistent in how they do their jobs. Some BARK into the PA systems, others can barely be heard. But mostly, the ones that lecture the passengers with what we already know only waste time when the trains are already running late. They should just quickly open & shut the doors so people can push in the little amount necessarily to close the doors and get on with it!

Jun. 18 2013 11:51 AM
Guy from NYC

Drag subway car performers off in cuffs:)

But seriously, these dance crews are more than just disruptive, they are dangerous. I often wonder who will pay my medical bills when one of these kids hits me in the head while they swing from the handrails to blasting music then hit me up for money.

Jun. 18 2013 11:51 AM
antonio from baySide

One more, being the 'Far west side is a new corridor', run a train from upper bronx, down the upperWest to penn (It would have to be a LIRR, sorry, but its a part of the MTA)!

Jun. 18 2013 11:51 AM
Paul W from Ditmas Park

Combine the Beverley Road and Cortelyou Road stations on the Q line in Brooklyn into one station to eliminate a stop on a line that is always crowded at all hours.

Jun. 18 2013 11:49 AM
silas from 34th st 10001

An Express F train! The tracks are there and I can go from Jay to 7th ave in no time!

Jun. 18 2013 11:49 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

When I was brought to this country back in 1949, there was no medicaid, medicare or any of that.It was all free enterprise. I needed medical attention, and we used the charity hospitals. Right after the war, the Germans were totally broke and we were getting UN food rations as refugees in the camps. I needed critical surgery. My mother got the best surgeon in Munich to perform that surgery in exchange for sausages, coffee and cigarettes. Later, in the US, charity hospitals could not perform that kind of surgery. If we had to have it, we'd have to pay money we didn't have for a New York 5th avenue specialist. Otherwise, my GP for over 25 years was a private doctor in Brownsville who charged us only according to what we could afford to pay. As our situation improved, he charged us more, which is only fair. I agree with going back to the old system.

Jun. 18 2013 11:46 AM
Robert from NYC

1. Get rid of Bloomberg, 2. Check out Berlin's system! 3. Instead of the swiping mechanism for MetroCard install the same mechanism used on busses, you know, the "inghiottire e vomitare" system (ingest and vomit)!

Jun. 18 2013 11:38 AM



You know who you are!!

Jun. 18 2013 11:33 AM
antonio from baySide

1. INVEST IN STREETCARS; We could connect La Guardia to the #7, and the F to redhook.
While I like the SAS project, It's costing billions (yes billions with a 'B') and we could have what I mentioned and at least 4 more. We are woefully behind other cities. Come on, even Jersey is beating us in this regards!!!!

2. Get a great PR company to market a metro-card dedicated to capital projects.
(I think I mentioned this when Joe Lohta was on in October.)

3. Put MTA control under the city council/mayor.

4. Complete the vending machines for ALL city bus stops. How many nyc jobs would that create?!

Jun. 18 2013 11:18 AM

Clean it! Go to other countries and compare: NYC subway is the most disgusting and filthy. It’s embarrassing. Have people who are in charge of MTA ever look at the celling or at the floor or at the rails? It is dirty everywhere.

Jun. 18 2013 11:02 AM
John A

Turn off card scan when the gate is closed.
I paid for a ride with a scan, rolled the first gate open, turned a corner, and found the second full height gate was closed for the night.
Ripoff via bureaucracy.

Jun. 18 2013 11:02 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I wish Bloomberg were as aggressive in tackling street litter as he is on other things. NYC streets are filthy, compared to other cities'.

Jun. 18 2013 10:42 AM

Heres a no brainer:
make some turnstyles exit only and others entry only. That way commuters wont have to stare each other down during rush hour as they rush toexit andenter through the same turnstile.
Similarly ,high traffic corridors could be roped off to facilitate 2 way traffic--one "lane " in each direction.

If Rio can do it (they do), NYC CAN!

Jun. 18 2013 10:42 AM
carolita from nyc

More people working the platforms, to help, to make us feel safe, and emptying garbage. And more garbage bins. Doesn't have to be those big metal ones that people are afraid bombs will fit in; could just be those transparent plastic bags hung on hoops if they were emptied more often. Sometimes I actually run out of the subway to toss some garbage, and zip back in before the doors close. Which is better than tossing my garbage out the door, the way I see a lot of people do, believe it or not. You'll never stop New Yorkers from eating on the subway -- we have to eat sometime between our 2 or 3 part time jobs! But you could make it easier for us to take better care of our city.

Jun. 18 2013 10:42 AM
Hank Linhart from Gowanus

Brighten the subway stations with paint and lighting.

Jun. 18 2013 10:26 AM

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