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NYCTRC releases findings on service diversion signage in subways

At a press conference on Tuesday, April 10th, Andrew Albert, Chair of the NYCTRC, presented findings from the Council’s survey of service diversion signage in subway stations.  The project focused on signage posting: location, removal of expired notices, content, provisions for the full or partial closure of stations due to service changes and provision for alternative bus service to replace suspended service.  In its report, “DIVERTED! But – how do we know?”  the Council found implementation to be mediocre at best.

During October and November 2011, surveys in 48 stations were conducted by members of the Council and PCAC staff between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 11 p.m.  Surveyors were assigned one or more stations that would be impacted by weekend service changes and given instructions along with collection forms.  There were a total of 63 observations; some stations were visited on multiple occasions.

Surveyors evaluated the signs’ clarity of message, placement and timeliness, as well as the methods used to close stations or areas where no service was available and the adequacy of signs addressing service alternatives such as shuttle buses and alternative routing for riders who need accessible stations.   Surveyors recorded the presence of handwritten signs about service changes, which indicate potential gaps in the official signage program.

The report concludes that, while the current service change signage represents a significant advance over previous efforts, it is often not available or evident to riders.  The report recommends that NYC Transit make additional efforts to ensure that riders will encounter service change signage, particularly at the entrances of stations and outside of turnstiles, but also on station platforms.

It should be obvious that accurate service information is critically important for individuals who must use accessible stations.  However, surveyors found that, where service changes affected accessible stations, only 53% of the stations surveyed had service change signage that addressed the availability of alternative accessible service.

The report also recommends transitioning toward electronic signage to provide a more flexible and predictable means of providing service information.  With the volume of work underway in the subway system, it is critical that subway riders receive accurate and timely information about how this work will affect their travel.  An important part of informing riders about these impacts is the temporary signage in place in stations, and there remains a need for improvement in this area.

Click here to read the full report.  Council members who participated in the survey are: Andrew Albert, Bill Guild, Stuart Goldstien, Chris Greif, Sharon King Hoge, Trudy Mason, Edith Prentiss, Mike Sinansky and Burt Strauss.