Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

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keyboardkat
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Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by keyboardkat » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:18 pm

In the past couple of days I've ridden a number of R-160 trains in which the computerized station announcements, annunciator boards and computerized moving maps were "inoperative" (to quote Nixon's press secretary Ron Zeigler - only those of us of a certain age will understand this).

The annunciator boards simply read "New York City Transit," The moving station maps were dark, and the conductor made the station announcements in the old fashioned way. The warning chime before the doors closed didn't work either.

Apparently the bugs haven't been worked out. But you don't expect to see such early failures in expensive, glitzy new equipment like this.
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Head-end View
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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by Head-end View » Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:43 pm

Yeah, I had a feeling from the start that those electronic systems were too sophisticated (and probably delicate) to be dependable in NYC's rugged operating environment. It might work in cleaner, gentler cities like Washington D.C, Atlanta, or Miami, but maybe not here.

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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by Kamen Rider » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:25 pm

It's a simple explination. They need to be upgraded for the new service changes, and, until a train is, they run with the FINDS off and the crew making the annoucments. they are not broken at all.
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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by Head-end View » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:38 pm

Well, (chuckle!) Maybe I should have a little more faith......... It's just that we've seen other good ideas like this fall by the wayside over the years, 'cause they couldn't be made to work right, or couldn't be maintained in NYC's rugged operating environment. Remember the LIRR M-1 cars with the destination signs that never worked in the 1970's? They were eventually removed. And the subways supposedly experimented with air-conditioning in some cars in the late 1950's, and the TA concluded it just wasn't feasible even though the Hudson & Manhattan RR (now PATH) was successfully operating their new fleet of air-conditioned K-series cars in that era. So you see why I'm a little cynical........

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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by Head-end View » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:28 pm

And Voila! Today I was riding a northbound N-train (R-160 #9083) approaching Queensboro Plaza and the strip map was displaying Atlantic/Pacific as the next stop, though the automated station announcements and worded display were working correctly. There ya' go!

railfan365
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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by railfan365 » Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:00 pm

Head-end View wrote:And Voila! Today I was riding a northbound N-train (R-160 #9083) approaching Queensboro Plaza and the strip map was displaying Atlantic/Pacific as the next stop, though the automated station announcements and worded display were working correctly. There ya' go!
I've seen this sort of malfunction several times. Including one time this week, riding an F train from Herald Square to Lexington Avenue with the strip map indicating the whole time that the next stop would be Prospect Park. However, the audio announcement for each station, and the words scrolling on the A/C boxes, indicated the correct stop each time.

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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by darthdoosh » Tue Aug 17, 2010 10:11 am

railfan365 wrote:
Head-end View wrote:And Voila! Today I was riding a northbound N-train (R-160 #9083) approaching Queensboro Plaza and the strip map was displaying Atlantic/Pacific as the next stop, though the automated station announcements and worded display were working correctly. There ya' go!
I've seen this sort of malfunction several times. Including one time this week, riding an F train from Herald Square to Lexington Avenue with the strip map indicating the whole time that the next stop would be Prospect Park. However, the audio announcement for each station, and the words scrolling on the A/C boxes, indicated the correct stop each time.
Funny for us, but this wreaks havoc and honestly isn't fair for people visiting the city who are probably phobic about getting lost in the system already. As aforementioned, I've seen malfunctions like this countless times. I have nothing against the R160, but if the displays continue to be this problematic, I could see them being permanently turned off and possibly even removed when they undergo their first serious overhaul. (Note: Some of the sets that run on the J/Z already look like they're ready for it.)

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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by Head-end View » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:27 pm

That's exactly what I figure will happen. The TA won't be able to maintain those sophisticated electronic systems. Bring back the old roll-curtain signs! (chuckle!) :-D

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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by darthdoosh » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:55 pm

Haha, yes the R160 will eventually have to devolve. I like the display but hated the "voice acting" on the station announcements is rather annoying. Not as bad as the LIRR's M7 "voice" though. I love it when I hear people on the train mocking it.

This isn't Skytrain (early part of Skynet?) in Vancouver - we have human beings at the controls, and usually two of them. I'm not sure how far ahead they are on OPTO, but I've read that most who works the trains don't like the idea, save small shuttle routes - but it ultimately makes the operator (is that correct term in MTA lingo?) doing two jobs at once, which naturally increases dwell times. Also something about not having the same door controls as a conductor would.

keithsy
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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by keithsy » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:54 am

If I had a say, I would close them out. They are uneeded noise. It will never happen. Transit caters to the lonely and the phobic.

mrsubway
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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by mrsubway » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:32 am

It's so much fun to be on a train where the stops are out of synch. We'll be at Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, and the next stop is Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. You see all the passengers, and they're like WTF? I was on an R142 once, and for some reason the announcements were sped up, like a chipmunk was doing them. LOL! Gotta love technology!

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digitalsciguy
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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by digitalsciguy » Tue May 03, 2011 9:55 pm

I believe the automated announcements are mandatory for modern rollingstock to be ADA-compliant.

Most of the electronics in question are solid-state and much more plastic than electronic technologies of yesteryear. Many of these and future problems could likely be sorted out with simple software updates. Hopefully the warranty doesn't run out before the kinks get worked out of these systems.

We can be as cynical about these systems as we want, but ultimately the MTA has invested millions to have this highly flexible digital signage and automated announcement systems installed in 1k+ cars. I believe this is the largest single investment in new technologies that the MTA has made and Kawasaki is going to have to cover their asses big time if they fail anyway. (Displays made by a subsidary of Alstom and comm systems made by Mastushita.) We're also talking about machines that have been built by industry giants (read: conglomerates) who have expertise building thousands of cars for hundreds of clients worldwide and have had over 10 years experience (the R110s weren't built for nothing) with the NYC subway operating environment to work out most issues. We should be hoping for their largely continued success, not their demise; these systems make the subway truly accessible to the disabled and infirm and help them live independently. :::steps off soapbox::: Getting a bit more constructive here...

Kamen Rider mentions the need to upgrade for the service changes that happened last summer, but with these continued failures, I'm skeptical about some of these other problems that I've seen myself. How does route selection and customisation work on the R160s? Working in IT, I've learned a lot of the silly things software developers and engineers do that create the need for my job, but all of this software silliness better get sorted out soon so that the MTA can stop wasting money on what I presume are many man-hours updating software on trains. Working in IT has also taught me the valuable work creator/time waster of user error...how much of these route map-related problems are due to human error and would they go down if the software were better designed?

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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by Head-end View » Wed May 04, 2011 4:01 pm

Having worked for government and knowing how laws often have loopholes in them, my guess is that the ADA may require the trains to be equipped with automated station announcements, etc. But it probably doesn't require that the system be maintained in working order by the operating agency. Only that the equipment be be delivered with the systems installed. Trust me, that's the way government works. And I'm not hoping for the demise of this automation. I just don't believe that NYCTA has the ability to maintain this equipment in a fleet of 1700 rail cars. We'll be lucky if even PATH can do it with a small fleet of 300+ cars.

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digitalsciguy
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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by digitalsciguy » Wed May 04, 2011 4:49 pm

Head-end View wrote:...I'm not hoping for the demise of this automation. I just don't believe that NYCTA has the ability to maintain this equipment in a fleet of 1700 rail cars. We'll be lucky if even PATH can do it with a small fleet of 300+ cars.
Today being Star Wars Day, I am obligated to say: I find your lack of faith disturbing. More seriously, do you think maintenance of automated communication equipment is unsustainable because of poor management practises or lack of resources from reduced transit investment from government bodies?

Forgive me- I'm always looking for ways to turn depressing resignation to existing trends into productive conversations identifying the problem to avoid self-fulfilling predictions of decay - while I have no crazy expectations of these forum activities actually having any direct effect on the big picture, it's worth identifying the problem. I may also just be picking at words...I badly want to interpret 'I just don't believe that the NYCTA has the ability to maintain this equipment' as 'the MTA and this equipment are screwed because of the budget situation' simply because everyones' favourite game is to sell short and trash talk the MTA, but I also realise many people here have actually seen the crap that has happened in the agency over decades. All things considered, note that MTA's stock is actually very well maintained as compared to that of many other transit systems in the US, despite the state of stations and other infrastructure...

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digitalsciguy
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Re: Problems with R-160 computerized station announcement

Post by digitalsciguy » Wed May 04, 2011 4:50 pm

Head-end View wrote:...I'm not hoping for the demise of this automation. I just don't believe that NYCTA has the ability to maintain this equipment in a fleet of 1700 rail cars. We'll be lucky if even PATH can do it with a small fleet of 300+ cars.
Today being Star Wars Day, I am obligated to say: I find your lack of faith disturbing. More seriously, do you think maintenance of automated communication equipment is unsustainable because of poor management practises or lack of resources from reduced transit investment from government bodies?

Forgive me- I'm always looking for ways to turn depressing resignation to existing trends into productive conversations identifying the problem to avoid self-fulfilling predictions of decay - while I have no crazy expectations of these forum activities actually having any direct effect on the big picture, it's worth identifying the problem. I may also just be picking at words...I badly want to interpret 'I just don't believe that the NYCTA has the ability to maintain this equipment' as 'the MTA and this equipment are screwed because of the budget situation' simply because everyones' favourite game is to sell short and trash talk the MTA, but I also realise many people here have actually seen the crap that has happened in the agency over decades. All things considered, note that MTA's stock is actually very well maintained as compared to that of many other transit systems in the US, despite the state of stations and other infrastructure...

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