Aaron Cael

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Cheap Fixes for the MTA


“In an effort to encourage the powers that be to implement some sure-to-be-lauded changes, designer Randy Gregory is posting a different idea for improving New York City’s subway every day for the next 100 days.” – Gizmodo

This is awesome. Check out his Tumblr here.

I had a similar undeployed idea back when I belonged to a hackerspace to get a think tank together to come up with very low cost design/tech/UX improvements for the subway. I think I was calling it, alternately, 80BucksaStation and theGcouldbelesshorrible.com

The two guiding principles were: Improve calm. Improve flow. I mainly focused on ideas that could be implemented cheaply and, if neccessary, unofficially/clandestinely.

Some ideas:
>>  Walk Left, Ride Right stickers on escalator handrails.

Seriously people. The unspoken, unwritten rule is to leave one lane open for people who want to walk. In the U.S., we replicate the passing-lane by making the walking side be the left. At certain high-traffic stations that rely on precise timing (Whitehall Street/South Ferry especially), one lazy human speedbump can make dozens miss their connection and lose 30-60 minutes of their life by denying everyone behind them the ability to move. With MTA approval, this could be a stencil, sporadically renewed. If done as a guerilla campaign, stickers.

>> Mark unofficial transfers.
Hansel and Gretel left a trail of bread crumbs through the forest. We can do better. Break out the spray paint and stencils and make a little tasteful path between nearby stations not connected underground. Basically, mark a track between any stations less than a 1/8 of a mile apart that connect train lines that do not have an easy transfer. Hell, while we’re at it, why not make these stations an actual free transfer? If subway-bus transfers can be automatically calculated, there’s no reason this can’t work.

For starters, mark:

  • Fulton G to Atlantic-Pacific
  • Court Square to Queensboro Plaza
  • Lorimer JMZ to Broadway G

>> Mark the platform where the subway doors open

Yeah, I know. Human operated trains do not stop precisely at the same spot every time. But they do 90% of the time and pretty damn close the rest. Giving some cue as to where these openings are would allow passengers to better organize themselves to allow easier on-off.



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