Kat Aaron is an Associate Producer for WNYC, where she is part of Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
Spotted: Outlaw Subway Signs To Ease Riders Through The Labyrinth
Monday, February 10, 2014 - 12:30 PM
It's a high-order skill of the veteran straphanger: boarding a subway train at the exact car and door that will disgorge you at the other end close to your connecting train or station exit. For years, the only way to execute the move was either by accident or reliance on a complex map of the system that you carried in your head, embedded over the years by trial and error. Then came an app called Exit Strategy, which put the map on your phone. And now comes the latest attempt to make a once-specialized skill of the grizzled New Yorker available to all: rogue signage.
The first signs were spotted on Monday at L train platforms. They read, 'Board Here,' with the icons of transfer lines underneath. But they’re not installed by the MTA – they’re courtesy of the Efficient Passenger Project, whose website says the signs help rider "efficiently navigate the New York City subway system."
4/5/6 transfers installed! Be sure to look for them on your next trip. The rest of the trains coming shortly. pic.twitter.com/WHlyMVN9u1— EPP NYC (@EPPNYC) February 10, 2014
"It's a public, civic service," an EPP founder told WNYC. The founder asked to remain anonymous because the signs are not sanctioned by the MTA. The subways can be "a labyrinth of tunnels and transfers and stairways. The project is an attempt to kind of rationalize some of that environment, and just make a more enjoyable, faster commute."
Gene Russianoff, staff attorney of the Straphangers Campaign, was firmly in the 'pro' column. "I am all for sharing subway smarts," he said, adding presciently: "The EPP activists better have many replacement copies of the poster."
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz confirmed that the transit agency was, indeed, planning on removing them. "These signs have the potential to cause crowding conditions in certain platform areas and will create uneven loading in that some train cars will be overcrowded while others will be under-utilized." Besides, he said, "regular customers already know which car they want to get into."
His latter statement struck a chord with some of our colleagues. "This is hard-earned local New Yorker information," said one. "Posting it so flagrantly etches away at the quiet pleasure I get from stepping off at the door just next to the staircase I need reach the exit closest to my destination. Or of being the first person to reach the turnstile from my train, leading the commuter exodus up into the above-ground light."
What do you think? Are you pro or anti-sign?