Digital subway track maps keep L train riders behind yellow line

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For more than a century, straphangers have been squinting down subway tunnels to determine if a train is coming, but now 21st century technology offers a safer alternative.

The New York City Transit Authority has installed video terminals that display locations of trains on the L line at any given time.

Transit officials have often cautioned subway riders against trying to spot the lights of a train approaching since it requires leaning over the edge of the platform and risking a fall onto the tracks.

The first of the new equipment to be installed in a pilot program is in the Myrtle−Wyckoff Avenues Station on the L line in Brooklyn.

The screens of the new flat panel video terminals are split into two views, with the bottom half displaying the locations of trains moving along the entire L line and the top half showing trains in or approaching nearby stations.

Information is updated every 15 seconds.

“It’s actually like a map of the L line,” said Greg Lombardi, general manager of the L line.

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

The new system was developed inside the Transit Authority with an electronics maintenance division and the Division of Stations cooperating to establish the new equipment on what transit officials called a minimal budget.

If the pilot project is successful, transit officials say they intend to expand it to other stations along the L line and eventually to other subway lines.

The London subway system has employed electronic signs offering times of arrivals of trains for at least 10 years.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been attempting for nearly 20 years to come up with a similar system to inform passengers of the location and time of arrival of buses, but MTA officials told a City Council public hearing last week they had made little progress.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e−mail at or phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 136.

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