MTA Starts Video Screen Pilot Program On The L

L Train Video ScreenOne of the video screens installed as part of the pilot program. Photo courtesy of the MTA.

The same act plays itself out at every single station in the system whether you are a new to the NYC Subway or a battle tested veteran. The act I speak of is the old bend over slightly & stare down the tracks to see where the next train is at. The MTA would like to see less of that along the L as they have started a test pilot program which introduces video screens that display real time information regarding the line. The test is being done at the Myrtle-Wyckoff Aves station in Brooklyn. The MTA issued a press release via e-mail to talk about the program:

While it is often said that there is never anything good on television, L line riders might be ready to disagree as an ambitious project to provide customer information using flat-panel video terminals is being piloted at the Myrtle-Wyckoff Aves. station. The new system will enable riders to view the locations of all trains along the line in real time. MTA New York City Transit is unveiling the new Train Locator Console (TLC) today.

After listening to complaints and comments from customers concerning next train information, Line General Manager Greg Lombardi asked if it would be feasible to display the locations of trains along the line on a video subway map for his customers, since the Rail Control Center system already tracks train locations along the Canarsie Line.

The answer was yes. With Computer Based Train Control (CBTC) and the related Public Address/Customer Information Screens (PA/CIS) already in place, the line had the infrastructure required to support the effort.

The real-time train locations are derived from the L line’s computerized operating system and then displayed for riders on the new flat-panel video terminals.

“The idea for this new system came directly from the customers who use the L line every day coupled with Greg Lombardi’s willingness to listen to the issues and then look into finding a way to respond to their concerns,” said NYC Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr.

The new system was developed in-house with CBTC & PA/CIS, the Electronic Maintenance Division and the Division of Stations teaming to create the interface and software on a minimal budget. The project quickly took shape under the direction of Robert Forlenza, Senior Director, and Wilson Milian, Director of the CBTC & PA/CIS TIS Applications Unit.

“Following Greg Lombardi’s motto of ‘keep it simple,’ I put together a terrific team and gave them a timeline of exactly nine months to have the pilot in the station and working. They met that challenge,” said Forlenza.

The TLC screens are split into two views: the bottom half of the TLC displays the locations of all trains moving along the entire L line; the top half is a magnified view of the station where it is installed, and the next station in both directions. Once the interface design was approved, 42-inch flat-panel monitors were purchased off the shelf and Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues station was selected for TLC’s pilot location. Two platform screens have been installed along with a third screen in the fare control area for the pilot.

“This was an extremely worthwhile project. I had strong support and cooperation from everyone involved and it was great to be able to respond to my customers’ ideas on how to improve service,” said Lombardi.
If successful, the pilot will be expanded to other stations along the line. The system could also be rolled out along other lines in the future as they are upgraded with CBTC and PA/CIS technology.

I feel this is a great program which should prove beneficial to riders of the L if & when it gets implemented on the entire line. I hope this pilot works well as seeing it implemented system wide on the NYC Subway will be a great day for all riders.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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