New York MTA’s Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng announced a slate of improvements to real-time seating availability and trip accessibility information for riders, in addition to new service enhancements.
The new service timetables, which went into effect on March 29, restore the agency’s weekday levels of service that had been in place from Jan. 25 through March 5.
The new real-time passenger information will be available via platform screens, platform audio announcements, and the agency’s Train Time app. Details on these enhancements are listed below.
Platform Screens: Digital signs on platforms show a diagram of the arriving train, seating capacity in each car, and the observer’s relative position within the train. Customers can use this information to walk to a different part of the platform to find a car with fewer people. At approximately 20 stations with color screens, that information is color coded in accordance with guidelines established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). At approximately 90 stations with monochrome screens, that information is displayed graphically.
Audio Announcements: When a train is approaching, the automated arrival announcements include statements to the effect of: “The 7:15 train to Penn Station will arrive on Track 1. There are more seats towards the [rear/middle/front] of the train.”
LIRR Train Time App Becomes More Detailed: The LIRR Train Time app now shows the number of passengers in each car of every train, refreshed every 15 seconds, along with the observer’s relative position within the train. (When it was first launched last year, the app provided a four-tiered color-coded system of green, yellow, orange, or red to show a general sense of seating availability. This color coding remains in place even with the increased detail now being provided.)
Trip Accessibility Information: LIRR Train Time app users will now be able to locate elevators, escalators, and ramps on both origin and destination platforms, giving customers the ability to map out a trip in advance and position themselves in the ideal spot. The app also features enhanced screen reader support for blind or low-vision users by reading out loud what is on the screen and adapt the speech output to the speed or volume they choose.
How It Works
The features on screens, announcements, and the app are all powered by the same data system which uses sensors that can determine how many passengers are on board a train at any given moment. The LIRR securely transmits and processes this data, and seamlessly provides it back out to customers in real time.
All of the latest station and app features were built entirely in-house, led by the LIRR innovation team and implemented by LIRR Communications (BRS) and MTA's information technology department (TCU).
The approximately 70,000 customers who already have TrainTime installed will receive an automatic update so that they can use the new features. The app remains available for free download through the App Store and Google Play Store.
Originally posted on Metro Magazine