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Email from MTA regarding real-time info


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For anyone interested in reading a good, succinct email from the MTA regarding their plans for real-time subway information availability I recommend the below. Most of it the people here will know, but I found it worth posting. They send very good emails via the mtadevelopers google group:




The ability to share real-time data is dependent on the capabilities

of the systems we use to control signals and train movement.


On the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 lines (collectively, the majority of the

"A" Division or I.R.T.), we use a modern, computerized system known as

Automatic Train Supervision (ATS), which was activated incrementally

between 2005 and 2010 and allows our dispatchers to see precise train

positions in real time. This is the system that feeds information into

the countdown clocks that we are activating in stations along these

lines. We are working through the technical issues that would enable

us to provide an API for real-time data from ATS. This information

would be similar to what appears in the countdown clocks. Right now,

though, our ATS team's top priority is continuing an aggressive

schedule to activate countdown clocks by the end of the year in all of

the stations on these lines that don't yet have them.


On the A, B, C, D, E, F, G, J, M, N, Q, R and Z lines (collectively,

the majority of the "B" Division, or IND. and B.M.T. systems), we use

a fixed-block signalling system that essentially dates back to the

dawn of the subways. While we maintain the system continuously and

regularly upgrade its components, the underlying technology has

remained little changed since the nineteenth century. It is a fail-

safe system that allows our dispatchers to known a train's general

position within fixed blocks of track, but it does not allow our

dispatchers to see a train's precise position in real time. We have

long-term plans in place to upgrade these lines to modern,

computerized train control, pending availability of funding in future

capital programs.


We are currently experimenting with a few ways to bring rudimentary

countdown clocks and next-train audio announcements to these lines. As

of this writing, 19 stations on the A, C and E lines in Manhattan, 13

stations on the E, F, M and R lines in Queens and one station in

Brooklyn benefit one or another form of these less sophisticated

countdown clocks.


Finally, the L line is controlled by our most sophisticated train

dispatching system, Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC).

Countdown clocks on the 24 stations of the L line are powered by CBTC.

MTA New York City Transit is also installing CBTC on the 7 line. We

don't presently have an API for the L line, but this too is under

evaluation. Our first priority for sharing real-time data is ATS,

which has many more stations.

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