Countdown clocks

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Dylanchris73
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Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2004 6:26 pm

Countdown clocks

Post by Dylanchris73 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:49 am

Are Countdown Clocks REALLY needed? Wouldn't the money be better spent cutting the budget defceit down?

CComMack
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Location: Francisville, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Re: Countdown clocks

Post by CComMack » Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:48 am

Countdown clocks pay for themselves by encouraging ridership; it's a quirk of human psychology that people are content to wait around three times as long if they know exactly how much longer they have to wait ("the next train will arrive in 8 minutes"), as opposed to only having only a rough idea how long the wait will be ("this train runs every 12 minutes, so you will wait a random interval less than 12 minutes").

Unfortunately, in the current political/financial climate, this means that the most likely way they pay for themselves is by enabling service reductions in the off-peak, with minimal pain to the riding public. Still, minimal pain is just that, minimal: nonzero, but as low as possible.

That said, it would be a lot easier for the MTA to balance its books if the state legislature would refrain from stealing its money. As long as Albany feels they can do that with no repercussions from the voting public (or attention from the media), there's almost no point in finding ways for the MTA to save money, since Albany can just raid them for spare cash whenever they please.

L'mont
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Re: Countdown clocks

Post by L'mont » Tue Jun 22, 2010 8:32 am

The countdown clocks are fantastic. I first saw them while riding The Tube in London and remember asking myself, "why don't we have this here?". It makes a longer wait much more palatable by taking away the uncertainty.


How do the countdown clocks work, anyway? I know the "L" is different, so how about the workings of both systems.

Jeff Smith
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Re: Countdown clocks

Post by Jeff Smith » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:15 am

L'mont wrote:The countdown clocks are fantastic. I first saw them while riding The Tube in London and remember asking myself, "why don't we have this here?". It makes a longer wait much more palatable by taking away the uncertainty.


How do the countdown clocks work, anyway? I know the "L" is different, so how about the workings of both systems.
They had them in the Madrid subway too, about 1996, when I was dating a voodoo woman named Karen who was taking a course overseas. So it's fairly old technology. That was one rickety subway; the windows opened, and some of the windows were missing. Kind of like the IRT in the 70's.
Next stop, Willoughby
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JoshKarpoff
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Location: Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Re: Countdown clocks

Post by JoshKarpoff » Fri Jun 25, 2010 3:53 pm

The countdown clocks aren't costing a huge amount of money themselves. They're part of a larger program, PA/CIS, that is an outgrowth of revamping the signaling system of the IRT lines. In actuality, the clocks themselves are a prominent fringe benefit that allowed the MTA to sell this program to the politicians. Politicians don't like spending money on unseen capital projects that they can't attend a ribbon cutting ceremony for. A signaling system upgrade usually falls into the "unseen" category and thus, frequently ends up on the back burner for ages. By adding in the countdown clocks, the MTA was able to give the politicians a "sexy" publicly visible aspect of the project that they could then point to as "progress".

What this project is really about is increasing the throughput of trains through the system by eliminating the old block system. The new signaling system will, for the first time in NYCT history, allow A division dispatchers to know the exact position of any train on their lines. Before, only the towers had a rough idea, which was then communicated over intercom to the dispatchers. This should help to improve safety and increase system capacity during rush hour on the super crowded 4-5-6. As a side benefit of the computers knowing where any particular train is at any given time, the system can then calculate when the next train will arrive at any given station. At that point, it was just a matter of installing a message board to convey that info. The message boards will also give us the familiar announcements about watching the gap, saying something if you see something, etc. Along with the message boards, they're revamping the PA systems in stations, which will then be connected to dispatch, the token booths (yes, interestingly enough most station agents couldn't address the station over a PA system if they wanted to).

So, I for one, think that this is a good thing.
---Electrical Engineer---
5th generation from Harmon (Croton-on-Hudson, NY), home of the MTA MNRR Harmon Shops.
B.S. Elec. Eng. Tech., Rochester Institute of Tech.
"I have problems sleeping at night when I can't hear the idling of several GE locomotives reverberating off the hills."

Patrick Boylan
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Re: Countdown clocks

Post by Patrick Boylan » Mon Jul 05, 2010 2:46 pm

I think I remember seeing countdown clocks in Montreal, but the last time I was there was more than 10 years ago so I won't argue with anyone who says my memory's faulty. They have been in Washington DC for a bunch of years.
I wholeheartedly agree that they make the wait seem shorter.

Dylanchris73
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Re: Countdown clocks

Post by Dylanchris73 » Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:41 am

OK. I stand corrected then!

Trainmaster5
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Re: Countdown clocks

Post by Trainmaster5 » Tue Jul 06, 2010 6:25 pm

JoshKarpoff wrote:The countdown clocks aren't costing a huge amount of money themselves. They're part of a larger program, PA/CIS, that is an outgrowth of revamping the signaling system of the IRT lines. In actuality, the clocks themselves are a prominent fringe benefit that allowed the MTA to sell this program to the politicians. Politicians don't like spending money on unseen capital projects that they can't attend a ribbon cutting ceremony for. A signaling system upgrade usually falls into the "unseen" category and thus, frequently ends up on the back burner for ages. By adding in the countdown clocks, the MTA was able to give the politicians a "sexy" publicly visible aspect of the project that they could then point to as "progress".

What this project is really about is increasing the throughput of trains through the system by eliminating the old block system. The new signaling system will, for the first time in NYCT history, allow A division dispatchers to know the exact position of any train on their lines. Before, only the towers had a rough idea, which was then communicated over intercom to the dispatchers. This should help to improve safety and increase system capacity during rush hour on the super crowded 4-5-6. As a side benefit of the computers knowing where any particular train is at any given time, the system can then calculate when the next train will arrive at any given station. At that point, it was just a matter of installing a message board to convey that info. The message boards will also give us the familiar announcements about watching the gap, saying something if you see something, etc. Along with the message boards, they're revamping the PA systems in stations, which will then be connected to dispatch, the token booths (yes, interestingly enough most station agents couldn't address the station over a PA system if they wanted to).

So, I for one, think that this is a good thing.
Your first paragraph was spot on..... however the second one was based on the theory and presentation given by the contractor and not today's reality. As presently implemented the system actually slows down trains at many interlocking areas where trains diverge to other trunk lines( .ie Nostrand JCT), because the system loses or misidentifies trains, setting up wrong lineups. A tower operator can correct the problem in less than 30 seconds, while the ATS system takes 2 or 3 minutes to do the job. As for the Lexington Ave corridor the laws of physics will not let you run more trains in a corridor that is already over capacity. I've been operating trains on the Lex express for 30 years and scoff at that claim. Check the old timetables and you'll see that we've slowed down since the system came online. The system works as designed except in the rush hours when you have the most riders. Try the MTA's own trip planner and compare the time from Woodlawn or Dyre to the Bowling Green or Franklin Ave station to an actual trip and my point becomes obvious.

keithsy
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Location: unfortunately New York

Re: Countdown clocks

Post by keithsy » Sat Apr 16, 2011 5:10 pm

It would be great if there was certain reliability and no excuses. Let have it and we would not need countdown clocks.

keithsy
Posts: 176
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Location: unfortunately New York

Re: Countdown clocks

Post by keithsy » Sat Apr 16, 2011 5:15 pm

Trainmaster5 wrote:
JoshKarpoff wrote:The countdown clocks aren't costing a huge amount of money themselves. They're part of a larger program, PA/CIS, that is an outgrowth of revamping the signaling system of the IRT lines. In actuality, the clocks themselves are a prominent fringe benefit that allowed the MTA to sell this program to the politicians. Politicians don't like spending money on unseen capital projects that they can't attend a ribbon cutting ceremony for. A signaling system upgrade usually falls into the "unseen" category and thus, frequently ends up on the back burner for ages. By adding in the countdown clocks, the MTA was able to give the politicians a "sexy" publicly visible aspect of the project that they could then point to as "progress".

What this project is really about is increasing the throughput of trains through the system by eliminating the old block system. The new signaling system will, for the first time in NYCT history, allow A division dispatchers to know the exact position of any train on their lines. Before, only the towers had a rough idea, which was then communicated over intercom to the dispatchers. This should help to improve safety and increase system capacity during rush hour on the super crowded 4-5-6. As a side benefit of the computers knowing where any particular train is at any given time, the system can then calculate when the next train will arrive at any given station. At that point, it was just a matter of installing a message board to convey that info. The message boards will also give us the familiar announcements about watching the gap, saying something if you see something, etc. Along with the message boards, they're revamping the PA systems in stations, which will then be connected to dispatch, the token booths (yes, interestingly enough most station agents couldn't address the station over a PA system if they wanted to).

So, I for one, think that this is a good thing.
Your first paragraph was spot on..... however the second one was based on the theory and presentation given by the contractor and not today's reality. As presently implemented the system actually slows down trains at many interlocking areas where trains diverge to other trunk lines( .ie Nostrand JCT), because the system loses or misidentifies trains, setting up wrong lineups. A tower operator can correct the problem in less than 30 seconds, while the ATS system takes 2 or 3 minutes to do the job. As for the Lexington Ave corridor the laws of physics will not let you run more trains in a corridor that is already over capacity. I've been operating trains on the Lex express for 30 years and scoff at that claim. Check the old timetables and you'll see that we've slowed down since the system came online. The system works as designed except in the rush hours when you have the most riders. Try the MTA's own trip planner and compare the time from Woodlawn or Dyre to the Bowling Green or Franklin Ave station to an actual trip and my point becomes obvious.
TM5, you are a man after my own heart. The ATS is a colossal failure. It was not supposed to be that way. Transit injects its own archaic concepts into modern concepts. Weakness and strength do not work.

L'mont
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Countdown Clocks and "Stations Away" Signs

Post by L'mont » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:45 pm

It seems that the B division (at least the ACBD) use automated announcements stating how far away the next train is. (3 stations, 1, ect.). Why do they not have the countdown clocks associated with the 1,2,3,4,5,6 trains? Is there some technical difference with the signaling system, or can us "A" train riders expect a direct countdown.

Terrapin Station
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Re: Countdown Clocks and "Stations Away" Signs

Post by Terrapin Station » Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:53 am

L'mont wrote:It seems that the B division (at least the ACBD) use automated announcements stating how far away the next train is. (3 stations, 1, ect.). Why do they not have the countdown clocks associated with the 1,2,3,4,5,6 trains? Is there some technical difference with the signaling system, or can us "A" train riders expect a direct countdown.
Yes, there is a technical difference. The IRT has ATS up and running while the IND/BRT does not (or at least not all of it).

More info:

http://www.mta.info/news/stories/?story=109

Train Arrival Information Signs:

Customers at nearly 100 stops can now just look up and see when the next train will arrive. The MTA is expanding the presence of next-train arrival displays in stations along both the numbered and lettered lines and riders are quickly adjusting to the fact that they no longer have to lean over the platform edge to see when the next train is coming. Customers at more than 75 stations on the numbered lines now benefit from next train information displayed by the Public Address/Customer Information System (PA/CIS).

Riders of the lettered lines can now receive similar information between 207th Street and Columbus Circle.59th Street. As work continues along the numbered lines, the lettered line initiative is currently progressing south to 23rd Street along the Eighth Avenue Line.

Two different means of gathering train location information are in use but it all adds up to the same thing—customer information that was not in place a year ago. Numbered line train arrival information is generated by the new Automatic Train Supervision (ATS) system, which monitors and controls train movement from the Subways Rail Control Center and provides the PA/CIS system with constant automatic updates of train locations. The system in use along the lettered lines keeps tabs on train movement through track circuits. These circuits detect the presence of a train which triggers a message to be displayed in the stations ahead.

BobLI
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Location: NY

Re: Countdown Clocks and "Stations Away" Signs

Post by BobLI » Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:27 am

I havent heard the "next train is x stations away" over the PA at Jay/Metrotech (A,C F line)in a long time! At least since they renovated the station.

SouthernRailway
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Re: Countdown clocks

Post by SouthernRailway » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:50 pm

Yes, they are needed. London had them as far back as the '80s, from my recollection of visits. Charlotte even has them for bus stops!

jonnhrr
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Re: Countdown clocks

Post by jonnhrr » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:23 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:Yes, they are needed. London had them as far back as the '80s, from my recollection of visits. Charlotte even has them for bus stops!
The DMI's as they call them in LU-speak were originally based on the train describer system (which gave next train information but no countdown) which were based on block occupancy and/or manual input from signalmen (towers). The early systems were also fairly unreliable wrt countdown and many stations still to this day only have next train info with no countdown.

I recall not many years ago (2003 I think) being in Tower Hill on the district line and seeing the next train indicator being worked manually by an attendant on the platform.

Jon
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