June 17, 2014
70 Additional Subway Stations to Get New State-Of-Art Intercom Devices
MTA on Track to Meet Goal of Installing Help Points at 102 Stations in 2014
MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) will seek Board approval next week to install new Help Point Intercoms at 70 additional stations as part of an effort to enhance customer safety and security by enabling direct communication with station agents and the Rail Control Center. These high-tech devices will serve as a welcome beacon to worried customers and lost tourists alike and is part of the MTA’s ongoing efforts to bring the subway system into the 21st century.
The MTA has included funding for the additional Help Points in the 2010-2014 Capital Program, which ensures the installation of this high-priority systemwide initiative will proceed without interruption. An initial rollout at 102 stations is on target for completion by the end of this year. In 2013, NYCT was able to add an additional 50 stations to the 2010-2014 Capital Program as part of other security-related projects and station renewals. Together with the additional 70 pending Board approval, this would bring the total number of stations to receive Help Points to 222. To date, a total of 166 Help Points are in service in 36 stations.
Help Points will eventually replace the existing Customer Assistance Intercoms (CAI) currently in use in stations. The initial stations to receive Help Points were identified based on ridership while ensuring that network coverage was evenly distributed.
"Help Points are making our subway system safer and easier to use, expanding access to assistance and travel information using the latest technology available," MTA NYCT President Carmen Bianco. "When coupled with Countdown Clocks and On The Go Screens, they add up to the most robust customer communications enhancements our customers have seen in decades."
"These units have a fresh new appearance that will make the Help Points easy to identify providing crisp sound that is clear and easy to understand," said Vice President for Corporate Communications Paul Fleuranges. "As designed, the Help Points are a major step beyond the Customer Assistance Intercoms now in our stations."
Help Points are highly visible intercoms, with a bright blue beacon light that pulses when one of the unit’s two buttons has been activated. That feature helps first-responders quickly find the unit and the customer in need of assistance, which improves response times after the red button has been depressed. The red button links directly to the Rail Control Center in cases of emergency such as an injury. The units also have a green button, which connects to the station agent on duty for travel information or assistance retrieving a personal item that fell on the track. The speakers and microphones on Help Points are equipped with digital technology that provides sound that is clearer than the audio currently provided by CAI intercoms.
The MTA considers Help Point installation as a high priority because of the safety and security benefits to customers. It expects to include the remaining 246 stations in the 2015-2019 Capital Program. The installation of the devices will be completed under multiple contractual packages. The cost of Help Point installation varies depending on the number of intercoms to be installed per station, with an average of about 6 units planned for each station.