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Straphangers Campaign Releases Survey of Subway Car Announcements
Majority of Subway Car Announcements of Delays Were Found to Be Clear and Correct For Third Year in a Row
Basic Informational Subway Car Announcements Are Made About 86% of the Time in 2013, Surveys Finds
Perfect Score For Basic Announcements in 2013: L and Q Lines
Worst Line in 2013: R
(New York, New York) – For the third year in a row the Straphangers Campaign found that a majority of subway car announcements of delays and disruptions were clear and accurate, according to a survey released today by the group.
In another finding, some 86% of basic informational announcements made on subway cars are clear and accurate. (A basic announcement—made at or between stops—includes the name of the station, destination or direction, train letter or number, and transfer opportunities (if any).)
"For the third year in a row, the majority of subway announcements were clear and accurate during delays or disruptions," said Straphangers Campaign Field Organizer Jason Chin-Fatt. "We hope Transit officials continue this positive trend, giving riders the information they need when regular service is affected.”
The survey was conducted by 79 volunteers between January 5 and May 16, 2013. In the survey, volunteers made 6,000 observations of in-car announcement opportunities on 20 subway lines. In 2013, our surveyors experienced and rated 98 delay and service change announcement opportunities during the survey period.
In the 2013 survey, some 52% of delays and disruptions experienced by our raters on all lines had clear and accurate announcements.
Official transit guidelines give conductors a list of 18 possible delay announcements with detailed reasons. These announcements range from: "unruly person on the train" to "waiting for connecting train." The policy says, "If there is a delay, [the conductor] must make an announcement immediately [and again] within 2 minutes after that."
Prior to the 2011 survey, in a majority of delays and disruptions experienced by our raters, there was either no announcement—or an inaudible, garbled or incorrect one.
In contrast, in 2013, subway car announcements of delays were correct, clear and ungarbled 52% of the time (51 out of 98 delays). Of the remaining 48%, delay announcements were not made at all 13% of the time (13 out of 98 delays); 9% were inaudible or garbled (9 out of 98) and 26% (25 out of 98) were rated "incorrect."
These were meaningless announcements that "we have a red signal," ones lacking key information such as "this local is now an express" (with no explanation), or ones with jargon such as "we have a schedule adjustment."
In another finding, some 86% of basic informational announcements made on subway cars are clear and accurate. This is largely unchanged from our last survey in 2012, which was 85%. (See Tables One and Two.)
In the 2013 survey, the L and Q lines provided basic announcements 100% of the time and both lines had automated announcements.
The R came in last for the second year in a row, with only 56% adequate basic announcements.
This survey follows twelve similar surveys conducted between 1997 and 2012. (See Methodology.)
MTA New York City Transit does not survey delay and disruption announcements on subway cars. Some 91% of cars are rated as having public address announcements. This is broken down by cars with automated announcements (99%) and conductor announcements (81%).
Table One: Best to Worst Percentages of Clear and Accurate Basic In-Car Announcements, 2010-2013 (PDF)
Table Two: Breakdown of Basic In-Car Announcements by Line, 2013 (PDF)
NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign Survey of Subway Car Announcements 2013 (PDF)