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MTA 2011 Highlights: Improved Technology and More Accessible Information

In 2011, the MTA focused on delivering on some long-promised benefits for our 8.5 million customers. This is the ninth in a daily series that recaps the best of 2011.

The MTA continued to bring new technology into the system in order to provide customers with more readily available real-time service information. Customers were introduced to the On the Go! Travel Station and Help Point Intercoms. Customers also saw further improvements to the website.

On the Go!

The On the Go! Travel Station is a new interactive touch-screen that offers MTA travel information and a whole lot more. The sleek, stainless steel enclosure supports a large screen with a colorful display, offering customers information about their entire trip, from planning with Trip Planner, real-time service status, escalator & elevator status and local neighborhood maps.

On the Go! Travel Station

The MTA partnered with third party developers to include applications which provide additional information, such as local history, shopping and dining options nearby provided by third-party applications. As added features, the screens will provide news and weather information. Taken together, this is an unprecedented amount of information made available to subway and commuter rail customers in one handy tool.

The On the Go! Travel Stations are available for customer use at three subways stations: Roosevelt Ave -; Jackson Heights, Bowling Green, and Atlantic Avenue as well as two commuter rail stations: Long Island Rail Road's Penn Station and Metro-North's Grand Central Terminal.

Depending on customer acceptance and success of the pilots, On the Go! may eventually be installed in stations throughout the system. It is anticipated that the On the Go! Travel Stations will generate significant advertising income, which would help to defray the costs of installation.

Help Point Intercoms

MTA New York City Transit's introduced newly-designed Help Point station communications system earlier this year with a pilot at two Manhattan subway stations along the Lexington Avenue Line. Designed to be both highly visible and easy-to use, these instant communications devices offer immediate access to help and information with the touch of a button.

Help Point Intercom photoCreated specifically for the subway environment, the Help Point is designed to be an easily recognizable communications tool for customers who need to either report an emergency or ask for travel directions. The units are easy to spot with a bright blue beacon light that will pulse when the unit is in action. This feature will help alert first responders in case there is an injured or sick customer at that location.

Each device will be individually addressable, so that in the case of an emergency, personnel at the Rail Control Center will be able to pinpoint the exact location where the call originated. Customers can expect faster response times, improved capabilities and digital audio, which will provide much clearer sound than now available with the customer assistance intercoms (CAIs) currently in use in subway stations.

The control panel contains a red emergency button and a green information button along with a speaker and microphone. Emergency calls are routed to the subway Rail Control Center while information calls are sent to the station agent.

Improved Website

The MTA also re-launched its website streamlining access to key travel information and introducing new features, including an improved Trip Planner and an App Center. The update was the first redesign of the site since a major overhaul in January 2010, which has helped fuel a 65 percent increase in daily visitors.

The redesigned website, which was created and built completely by MTA staff, includes these new features:

  • An enhanced Trip Planner Plus creates a truly regional trip planner for the first time, on mta.info, allowing users to receive interactive travel directions for Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road in addition to subways, buses and the Staten Island Railway as in the past. These directions will continue to incorporate planned service changes.
  • An App Center is a new gallery of apps for iPhone, Android, and other platforms that have been created by third-party developers who use data that the MTA has shared electronically.
  • Ways to Save is a new section that includes direct links to pages promoting travel savings.