Shocking new report: Subway signs, announcements are confusing

confusing subway sign
#NotAllGTrains. Photo by David Colon

Remember that time you thought the G train was running between Brooklyn and Queens before midnight on Saturday but you couldn’t figure out if 12am meant Sunday or Saturday or which week you were even supposed to avoid the train and when and where the alternate shuttle service would run if it even decided to show up?  Yeah. Every. Single. Day. Well, someone has finally got around to studying the issue and turns out they agree with you, subway signs and announcements can be a little confusing!

A shocking new report from the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA (free Metrocard swipe for anyone who knew this was a thing) confirms that no one knows what the hell is going on with all these service changes. “The frequency and intensity of service diversions have increased, putting more stress on riders and increasing the importance of good communication across all channels,” summarizes the PCAC. Yes, the signs and posters on buses and trains can be… wait for it… confusing!  Who knew?!

In the report’s findings:

“In 9 of 12 stations, signage was posted at station entrances; however, 2 signs had been removed, reducing the count to 7 out of 12.”  But masking tape was still present, meaning possibly that hooligans are ruining the MTA’s hard work. Surveyors reported that signs at stations and on trains could be difficult to find and were hung up in obscure areas. The report had some good news in that 11 out of 12 stations surveyed had signs that included travel alternatives, (although that still means about 8.3% of the stations had useless signs). And in a finding that any regular subway rider will mutter “Duh,” at, surveyors reported that “service diversion announcements were inconsistent across station platforms and on trains.”

And if you were lost already, although signs to shuttles are clearly marked, no shuttles had information to existing bus stops.  So you’re riding on the shuttle to nowhere, unsure which, if any, subway line is functioning it turns out that “NYC Transit frontline personnel are not always aware of what travel information to relay to passengers.”  Awesome.

This intensive research has led to a few helpful suggestions on how to alleviate this problem, starting with prioritizing “internal communication” so that yes, MTA workers are actually told what’s going on. “Consistent signage” that also “follows the path that subway riders follow” is another recommendation. No word on if that came from a geography PhD.

The report exists to hopefully find a better solution to all this ridiculous signage nonsense, but it may be quicker to get rich and hire a driver first.  Or walk.

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