MTA will give workers iPhones to brief riders about subway delays

November 8, 2017

E-train at the World Trade Center station, via Wikimedia

In a pilot program aimed at improving communication with commuters, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will give some of its workers iPhone 6s devices. The MTA will distribute about 230 phones to platform workers and train operators by the end of the week, as the Daily News learned. Text messages from the rail control center will be sent to the workers, detailing the cause and severity of delays. Workers will then pass on the information to riders, which will include available alternative routes.

Train conductors on the E line will get 90 smartphones with the other 140 going to platform controllers at various stations. Previously, MTA workers communicated with the control center by radio, but typically using confusing transit jargon. The text messages will help conductors relay information to riders in more easy-to-understand terms.

The pilot program follows a report by the Independent Budget Office last month that found the subway’s growing delays are costing the city nearly $389 million per year. The IBO also found that delays set New Yorkers back about $1.23 million every day in lost work time.  Overall, the average number of passenger hours lost to delays systemwide during the work week between 7 am and 10 am this year grew by 45 percent from 2012.

MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein told the Daily News: “We’re focused on better customer service, and through this pilot we’ll be able to convey real-time information quickly to our staff, who can better inform our passengers about service.”

Conductors will not be allowed to read messages until after the doors have closed and the train has left the station. Personal use of the phones will also not be permitted.

[Via NY Daily News]


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