A Look Inside MTA New York City Transit’s Sign Shop

Ever wonder where all of those printed subway station signs come from? There’s actually a little shop in Brooklyn manned by a small group of dedicated MTA New York City Transit workers who fabricate informational signs for the largest mass transit system in North America.

“When our customers enter the system, they expect to see clear and concise signage directing them to where they need to go and it is our mission to provide a product that they can depend on,” said Director of Station Signage John Montemarano. The workers at the Bergen Sign Shop practice a culture of creation, taking pride in their work and satisfied in the knowledge that 5.8 million customers a day depend on what they do.

Referring to an upcoming tour by the members of the New York Transit Museum, Bergen Sign Shop Superintendent Keith Parker believes visitors will be in for a shock. "They're going to be very surprised, because a lot of people don't know exactly what we do in the shop or how we change the signs. A lot of people don't even know that we have a sign shop in New York City Transit,” said Parker

While many would think that once a sign is up, that’s it. That does not take into account the sheer size of the system and the need to change signs on a pretty regular basis. “Up to this point this year, we have created more than 60,000 new station signs,” Montemarano added. “Most of those new signs keep customers up to date on service changes.”

A major change coming up on December 7, involves the Q Subway train, which will begin making local stops overnight in Manhattan. This service change, which affects only five Manhattan stations, nonetheless requires the creation of 200 new signs to be installed at 31 stations along the line.

Additionally, signs had to be changed before and after the closure of the Montague Tubes and along the G Subway Line during work on the Greenpoint Tubes. Signage is currently being created for the opening of the new Fulton Center, which is projected to serve 300,000 customers a day.

Going back to 2010, the Bergen Sign Shop’s craftsmen were kept busy creating 4,500 new signs for service changes affecting 157 stations. In 2013 alone, 83,000 signs and decals were fabricated and 7,764 installed.

So, the next time you have to consult a sign to determine new service, or change in service think about that little sign shop in Brooklyn and how busy they must be.

To see more photos of the sign shop, visit our Flick Page.