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Study Finds Subway Car Announcements Improving

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Did the conductor just call you a low-down, dirty liar or did he say the track ahead was on fire?That’s the kind of question subway riders often wonder about when garbled announcements come over the train they are riding.However, basic informational subway car announcements improved in the last year, according to a NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign Subway Announcements survey released last week.The bad news is that the survey also found delay and service change announcements remain poor.“We’re glad basic subway car announcements are improving, but disappointed most riders are being left in the dark to cope with delays and reroutings,” said Neysa Pranger, the campaign coordinator who oversaw the survey.Statistically, the survey found that basic subway announcements – those giving the names of upcoming stations and transfer information – improved to being made 77 percent of the time in 2005 as compared to 73 percent of the time in 2004.On the other hand, the survey found that in 65 percent of delays and disruptions, there was either no announcement at all or an inaudible, garbled or incorrect one.Among the subway lines that run in Brooklyn with the highest ratings of in-car announcements are the 4, 2, A and C lines.In the middle of the pack are the G, R, D, and F lines.Scoring near the bottom of the survey are the B, N, Q and M lines.The W line is rated as having the worst in-car announcements.Additionally, the B, N and W lines had a significant deterioration of the announcements as compared to the 2004 survey.The survey noted that official transit guidelines require conductors to make basic, in-car announcements including the line, station name and transfer points.Additionally, the guidelines list 18 possible delay announcements with detailed reasons for the delay ranging from “unruly person on train” to “waiting for a connecting train.”The transit policy also says, “If there is a delay, [the conductor] must make an announcement immediately [and again] within two minutes after that.”NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign Attorney Gene Russianoff said New York City Transit is in the process of implementing several key improvements in the area of announcements.These include a pilot project to have Passenger Environment Survey “traffic checkers” use hand-held computers, he said.“The computers will give the public more real time information on customer services and managers quicker access to data,” said Russianoff.In response to the survey the MTA New York City Transit issued a press release noting that the survey also reported a low train delay of three percent.“…Of the 6,600 service observations made by the Straphangers, only 203 delay incidents were recorded, which means 97 percent of monitored subway service operated without delays,” according to the release.“While not quite the perfect mark, NYC Transit strives for each day, a three-percent delay rate is impressive by anyone’s standards,” the release stated.The MTA also noted that conductors making the announcements do not always know the exact cause of a particular delay.The subway system has also benefited from the addition of more than 1,800 new technology subway cars with clear, automated digitized voice announcements, according to the MTA.

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