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The MTA will roll out countdown clocks on all lettered subway lines

Written by
Clayton Guse

Waiting on a subway platform, unsure when (or if) a train will arrive can be a frustrating experience. But over the past few years, the MTA has started to roll out digital countdown clocks at stops across the New York City subway system, giving riders a clearer idea as to when their train will come. 

The MTA's latest amendment to its 2015-2019 Capital Program comes with a detail that should bring hope to anyone who loves a digital screen telling them how much longer they'll be standing on a platform. The authority has refined its plan to roll out the countdown clocks on all of system's lettered lines, which follows a successful pilot program that brought the timers to N, Q and R stations last year. 

Currently, just 179 of the 472 subway stations in NYC have countdown clocks, and the only lettered line that features the technology is the L (which is, of course, shutting down for 15 months beginning in 2019). There is currently no specific timeline in place, but more information will be announced soon, according to MTA communications director Beth DeFalco. 

Last year, the MTA managed to bring Wi-Fi and cell service to each of the city's underground subway stations, making the experience of waiting for a delayed train slightly more palatable for those addicted to their email or social media. The new countdown clocks look to bring a similar boost in rider experience in the coming years.

The new screens do not necessarily correlate with an improvement in the quality of subway service—something that riders are desperate for after a year filled with delays and service disruptions. The clocks are bundled with a $2.73 billion appropriation for updating the system's archaic signaling system, but the new countdown technology is a separate initiative altogether.

Even as the quality of subway service continues to decline and ridership continues to increase, at least riders across the city will be informed as to exactly how screwed up their commutes will be in real time.

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