Subway signs do not tell riders where to go: Study

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You’re entering an unfamiliar Queens subway station. Can you transfer free to another line? Does that staircase lead to the street or to another subway platform? Does an express stop here at this time of night?

Answers to these and many other questions can be elusive, according to the New York City Transit Riders Council, which has released a survey titled “Troubling Signs.”

The survey says hundreds of the signs that tell straphangers where to go in the city’s hundreds of stations are inadequate, incomplete, misleading or missing. The report said the situation has worsened in many respects since 1997 although some things are better.

The Transit Riders Council said the situation in Queens was serious but generally not as bad as in Brooklyn, which has many more stations.

And yet Queens holds the dubious distinction of being the city’s worst when it comes to deficient signs in mezzanines and passageways with 88 percent found inadequate. In many cases, signs had missing street corner directions and street names.

Queens had 73 percent of signs proclaimed poor in control areas of subway stations, the areas outside the turnstiles. In this category, only Brooklyn, with 75 percent, was worse.

Queens also had:

The highest number (23 percent) of obstructed turnstile signs in the subway system.

The next highest percentage (26 percent) of missing outdoor colored globes indicating whether a station is open and service hours.

The second highest percentage of missing or out-of-date subway maps with 56 percent.

The survey gave as examples of problems in Queens:

the 75th Avenue station has a sign showing that E and F trains stop there, but it fails to mention that the E is available only nights and weekends.

At the 36th Avenue station, the turnstile sign is blocked by high entrance exit turnstile, light fixtures and pipes.

The Transit Riders Council surveyed 106 stations systemwide and the following Queens stations: Beach 44/Frank Ave., Mott Ave./Far Rockaway, 65th St.. Steinway St., 71st St./Forest Hills, Jamaica Van Wyck, 103rd St., 52nd St. (Lincoln Ave.), 61st St. (Woodside), Broadway, 36th Ave. (Washington), 111th St., Elderts Lane/75th St., Fresh Pond Road, 80th St./Hudson St., 111th St./Greenwood Ave., Broad Channel, Court Square/23rd St.-Ely Ave., Aqueduct and 75th Ave.

The Transit Riders Council was established in 1981 by the New York State Legislature to represent subway and bus riders. The 15 volunteer members are appointed by the governor, the mayor, the public advocate and borough presidents.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

Posted 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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