NYCT Introduces Prototype Help Point Intercom

Help Point Intercom
A prototype of the “Help Point” Intercom that the MTA will install at 2 subway stations for testing. Photo courtesy of the MTA.

Anyone who rides the NYC Subway knows that the passenger intercoms in place leave a lot to be desired in terms of functionality & usefulness. If MTA NYC Transit has its way, that perception will do a complete 180 as earlier today they introduced a prototype “Help Point” Intercom. Here are the complete details courtesy of a press release I received:

MTA New York City Transit’s newly-designed Help Point Intercom (HPI) prototype marks an important shift toward providing subway customers waiting in stations with a reliable, highly visible and easy-to-use communications device that will offer instant access to help and information with the touch of a button. New York City Transit officials demonstrated the new system to MTA Board members today.

Created specifically for the subway environment, the HPI is designed to be an easily recognizable communications tool for subway customers who need to report an emergency or simply want to ask, “What train goes to the Rockaways?” Customers can expect faster response times, improved capabilities and much clearer audio than they are accustomed to with the Customer Assistance Intercoms currently in use in subway stations.

Their unique appearance will make the HPIs easily identifiable whether located on station mezzanines or platforms. The sleek, modern design is metal with a blue light on top to enhance its visibility. The units are designed to be mounted vertically on either a station wall or platform column. The HPIs will be easy to use and have induction loop technology for the hearing impaired. The new technology devices will also be camera capable.

“These HPIs are another example of how the MTA is using technology to fundamentally change the way that our customers experience the transit system each day,” MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder said.

“We have designed the HPI to be a major step beyond the Customer Assistance Intercoms that passengers may see in stations now,” said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast. “Make no mistake, this device represents impressive 21st century technology and it demonstrates our ability to incorporate it into a system that is more than 100 years old.”

In addition to the speaker and the microphone, the control panel contains a red emergency button and a green information button. Emergency calls are routed to the subway Rail Control Center while information calls are sent to Travel Information or the station booth.

Plans currently call for a pilot installation in two stations along the Lexington Avenue Line—Brooklyn Bridge and 23rd Street Stations. The pilot will also serve as an evaluation platform to compare wired and wireless units. The full roll out will be determined after the evaluation of the pilot.

Click here for a higher resolution view of the High Point Intercom.

Once again it is refreshing to see the MTA continue to look into better technology that will lead to a better run system for its workers & the millions of riders who use it. While they have some catching up to do compared to other systems, it is a good sign that they don’t rest on their laurels.

I am curious as to the effectiveness of these intercoms. They look visually impressive & I hope to try one out soon. My main concern is if they will maintain its sleek design & condition. It is known that some riders don’t have any respect for equipment as anything nice looking has to be destroyed for the sake of doing it. Hopefully this intercom will not meet the normal fate of equipment.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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I tried to view the hi-res image of the Help Point Intercom, but the link end up on a page “Whoops! That Page Isn’t Here”…

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