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Announcements in subway audible on most boro trains

The R train brings up the rear in a recent report ranking the accuracy of subway announcements and how well commuters could hear them.
TimesLedger Newspapers

The Straphangers Campaign says that for the third consecutive year, the majority of subway announcements were understandable and correct during delays or disruptions.

The transit advocacy agency said the L and Q subway lines were the best in making announcements while the R line was the worst.

Otherwise, in order and by subway line, it was 2, 4, 6, 5, E, N, J, M, R, A, 7, B, 3, D, 1, G and C.

“For the third year in a row, the majority of subway announcements were clear and accurate during delays or disruptions,” said Straphangers Campaign Field Organizer Jason Chin-Fat. “We hope transit officials continue this positive trend, giving riders the information they need when regular service is affected.”

The Straphangers survey was carried out by 79 volunteers between Jan. 5 and May 16. Volunteers made 6,000 observations of in-car announcement opportunities on 20 subway lines. In 2013, surveyors experienced and rated 98 delay and service change announcement opportunities.

Official transit guidelines give conductors a list of possible delay announcements with detailed reasons for them. The announcements range from “unruly passenger on the train” to “waiting for connecting train.” The policy explains “if there is a delay, [the conductor] must make announcement immediately [and again] within two minutes after that.”

Subway car announcements of delays were correct, clear and ungarbled 52 percent of the time. Of the remaining 48 percent, delay announcements were not made at all 13 percent of the time, 9 percent were inaudible or garbled and 26 percent were rated “incorrect.”

The Straphangers said the “incorrect” announcements included “We have a red signal,” “This local is now an express” with no explanation or “We have a schedule adjustment.”

The transit advocacy unit said 86 percent of basic informational announcements made on subway cars were clear and accurate, largely unchanged from the last survey in 2012, which was 85 percent.

The R train, which came in last for the second year in a row, had 56 percent adequate basic announcements.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it does not survey delay and disruption announcements on subway cars, but the agency did survey the “percentage of cars with public address announcements” in the first half of 2013.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

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