Jump to content
Attention: In order to reply to messages, create topics, have access to other features of the community you must sign up for an account.
Sign in to follow this  
MikeGerald

Count-Down Clocks - Longer Wait Times

Recommended Posts

In another message on this forum, someone expressed the idea since many stations have count-down clocks that show train arrival times - that longer wait times between trains are acceptable. The rationale being that the riders knowing how many minutes they have to wait for a train - wait times can be increased from say 10 to 15 to 25 minutes. That having the information is more important than actually getting somewhere in a timely fashion.

 

On the other hand - there's been a strain of argument that the "rapid" in rapid transit has been slowly removed over time. In this view - riders did not have to actually "know" or follow a train schedule since the trains were frequent enough. Early in transit history (the original IRT) subways - local trains were 3-4 minutes apart, while express trains ran at 2-3 minutes apart (rush hours), but during the midnight hours trains ran 15 minutes apart. Of course that was a century ago, and many many things in transit have changed.

 

It has been the practice for the past few decades during the midnight hours - that the longest a person had to wait for a train was 20 minutes. That was often seen as a guideline about whether there was trouble on the subways - if one had to wait that length of time during the day. During the rush hours on some lines - local trains arrive every 10 minutes (for example the C-train), a long time practice. During such times - ridership - was often not the major issue - but having a "blanket level of service" was important.

 

Leaving aside issues of ridership - that is the volume of riders - is there a wait time between trains that is just too long? On Staten Island for the past 35+ years on weekend nights, and during the workweek midnight hours - riders have to wait an hour for the ferry, and during other times of the day up to 30 minutes. Originally adopted as a cost-cutting measure during the 1970's fiscal crisis - this practice has remained in effect for so long that few ferry riders even remember a time with more frequent service.

 

If riders know that the next train is not due to arrive for 15 minutes (for example) they could plan to do something else, or contact someone about their travel plans. At the same time knowing that the next train is 15 minutes away - means that same rider will not actually be moving any closer to their destination for that amount of time.

 

At several times there have been G.O.'s where it was indicated that trains would run every 25 minutes - for example the L-train, but other examples apply. The other night while traveling home the count-down clock clearly indicated that the next #4 train to Manhattan was 27 minutes away.

 

Now it is the intention of the MTA to install count-down clocks in every station, and over a period of time at every bus stop. This is seen as a good thing, especially for buses - since there are situations where the printed schedule is treated as merely a suggested, and no one really knows when a bus will ever show up.

 

Again one aspect of this discussion is ridership volume - the idea that if there are more riders (at any given time) then there should be more service. However a very good case can be made that if wait times are extremely long (much less frequent service) - potential riders could seek other means of transportation - reducing overall ridership (plus revenue and political support) for the subway as a whole. On the other hand there is also the idea that even stations or lines - using some definition of "low ridership" - still need a certain level of service so as to not penalize the persons that still use those stations. The MTA can not "micro-manage" the service levels at individual stations in any case - some stations and lines simply have at certain times/days/hours different levels of ridership.

 

Does having the train arrival time - help make riders feel "more in control", even if the riders are not actually moving from one place to the next? A sense that "somebody up there" cares even if the train (or bus) is still 15 fifteen minutes or more away.

 

I open this question for debate. The question.

 

Does having count-down clocks and riders easily getting the train arrival information now provide a good reason to reduce the frequency of trains?

 

Or that even with the count-down clocks that there exists some notion of an amount of time - that is just too long to wait for train service?

 

The floor for debate is open.

 

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, to me installing countdown clocks in many stations is a good thing, but certainly not an excuse to reduce the amount of scheduled service. Of course it's nice to know when your train will come, but i tend to get annoyed when I have just missed a train and the clock says the next one will arrive in 12 minutes. To be honest, anything above 10 minutes annoys me, except late night hours of course, at which I haven't ever ridden the subway. The longest i had to wait when I came there earlier this year, was 10 minutes, which i didn't find unreasonable, since it was the (C). So, to answer your second question, I would find it, for example, ridiculous to wait anywhere above 15 minutes during mid-day or rush hour.

I tend to judge the wait time I tolerate on the basis on what I have read on the schedule and what time it is. So I would be annoyed if I had to wait for the (6) for 10 minutes at 4p.m., while I wouldn't be annoyed if I had to wait almost the same amount of time at 4p.m. for the (C). For me, countdown clocks are helpful in that they tell you exactly how long you have to wait and you don't have to go and check every so often. Reducing service because of them I find ridiculous.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trains cannot run, even overnight, on headways longer than 20 minutes.

 

At 25 minutes, people get mad.

At 30, they are pissed.

Anything more than that, they are furious.

 

All the countdown clocks will do to people during overnight situations like that is encourage them to take alternative forms of transportation before they've paid the fare when they see the next arriving train on the board before they've swiped their Metrocard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Queens/Brooklyn/Bronx taxis are common, anyway. In Manhattan, subways are still used as multiple lines run together (4)(6), (1)(2), (A)(E), etc. It's not uncommon for people to use a combination of trains/taxis (usually taking the train to the same boro they live in then taxi from there to reduce the cost of the taxi).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An older person I know told me that a countdown clock is a great tool for a criminal working the midnights out in the boonies, LOL. They know how much time they have to commit their crimes relatively unmolested. I never thought of that "benefit" before but this came from a retired NYPD detective so I figured I'd pass it on FWIW. Be safe out there at all times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the countdown clocks.

 

I'm not sure what pisses me off more. When I wait in a station and it takes forever for a train to come or if I arrive at a station & the next train will arrive at a crazy amount of time?

 

I had to wait one time for a (6) train at 125 st for 16 minutes at 11:30 AM :mad:

 

does it make sense for a train to have 10 minute headways during the day or 8 minutes. I know it's only 2 minutes, but it's still valuable time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm more curious about the accuracy of these countdown clocks. On the subway they have generally been accurate, but the other day at the Bowling Green station they were a mess. A train was supposed to have arrived just as I was coming up the escalator to the platform, but when I arrived there was nothing and there were hoards of people waiting. Then that was removed and the next train was supposed to be in 7 minutes. That 7 minutes eventually was changed to 15 and then a train came shortly after. Clearly something was off and there were some really pissed off people because not only was the information inaccurate, but no announcements were made as to what was going on. I normally see that on the M34 line where buses are supposed to arrive at "X" time and then then when that time arrives there is still no bus. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
An older person I know told me that a countdown clock is a great tool for a criminal working the midnights out in the boonies, LOL. They know how much time they have to commit their crimes relatively unmolested. I never thought of that "benefit" before but this came from a retired NYPD detective so I figured I'd pass it on FWIW. Be safe out there at all times.

 

I never would have thought of that. Leave to a cop to think of it, lol.

 

I know of 2 psychology experiments that found people are willing to wait twice as long for a train if they know exactly when it is coming, versus not knowing when it is coming. Of course, these were in situations where people had no alternate method of transportation, so they had to wait for the train regardless.

 

Personally, I've noticed the clocks the the Lex to be about 2 minutes off. In other words, when the clock says "2 minutes", the train comes in about 30 seconds. I wonder if this is intentional, to make you feel excited that the train is "ahead" of schedule. Probably not, but still a good feeling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Essentially the clock determines what signal block the train is in (signal block = distance between two signals) and roughly how long it will take to get from that signal block to the station.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If there are any lines that needs countdown clocks, it is the (N) and (R) trains. I've definitely waited over 20 minutes for a (N) train many nights and the (R) shuttle I've had waits of at least 30 minutes at 36th or 59th (two stations where you can see your breath underground on cold nights). The countdown clocks would make that wait more bearable & if I have unlimited metro, I could go outside and grab a quick snack or something.

 

And I agree, the Lex clocks at Bowling Green are off by 2 minutes because the trains generally show up in less time than clock mentions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Much like the bus timetables posted @ bus stops, I view the subway countdown clocks the same way - as a reference as to when the next train's supposed to show..... If I see the next train set to arrive at 7 mins, I don't get pissed when it's not exactly 7 mins... At one point & time, I used to look at my watch to note how accurate the clocks were (that's back when they were first put up).... Now I don't bother lookin at my watch to see if the train came later than 7 mins (using that example).... no point in doing so if it came earlier, which would be a plus....

 

If I see bright(ening) lights from a distance... and feel (and smell) an increasing gust of "that NYC subway smell", then I realize a train is on its way.....

 

 

All the countdown clocks will do to people during overnight situations like that is encourage them to take alternative forms of transportation before they've paid the fare when they see the next arriving train on the board before they've swiped their Metrocard.

 

...which is exactly why I start walking over the bridge when I have to work late....

 

Seeing a "(1) South Ferry... 38 mins." is disheartening.... To me, that can mean anywhere from 45 mins. to an hour.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Much like the bus timetables posted @ bus stops, I view the subway countdown clocks the same way - as a reference as to when the next train's supposed to show..... If I see the next train set to arrive at 7 mins, I don't get pissed when it's not exactly 7 mins... At one point & time, I used to look at my watch to note how accurate the clocks were (that's back when they were first put up).... Now I don't bother lookin at my watch to see if the train came later than 7 mins (using that example).... no point in doing so if it came earlier, which would be a plus....

 

If I see bright(ening) lights from a distance... and feel (and smell) an increasing gust of "that NYC subway smell", then I realize a train is on its way.....

 

LOL... A nice way to put it... There are some stations like 47-50th streets that can be challenging to say the least when the subway smell comes, mixed with the rank smell of piss at the end of the platform. :eek:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One that pisses me off is Atlantic Av on the (2)(3)(4)(5). When I am on my way home late around 10-11 PM, I usually see on the local platform something like this:

 

1. (2) Flatbush Av 10 min

2. (3) New Lots Av 12 min

 

I wonder to myself: "Why are the (2) and (3) bunched up like that?" I know at that time the headways for each line individually is about 12 minutes, so they should alternate every 6 minutes so it would reduce waiting time especially going further in Brooklyn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I open this question for debate. The question.

 

Does having count-down clocks and riders easily getting the train arrival information now provide a good reason to reduce the frequency of trains?

 

Or that even with the count-down clocks that there exists some notion of an amount of time - that is just too long to wait for train service?

 

The floor for debate is open.

 

Mike

 

There is no good reason to increase waiting times. Just because people know about it doesn't mean they like it. I once had to wait 33 minutes for a train. At that speed, I could have walked to my destination. If I had known before paying my fare, I would have taken a cab.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.