Why NYC Subways Don’t Have Countdown Clocks


Great, quick read — possibly useful, in form and function, for generating teachable moments and useful learning projects.

Why New York Subway Lines Are Missing Countdown Clocks: “I honestly just wanted to know why the F train didn’t have clocks. I never expected it to be so complicated.”

*This is similar, in some ways, to previous posts on NYC and natural gas infrastructure.

4 thoughts on “Why NYC Subways Don’t Have Countdown Clocks

  1. was working with a local ngo on transportation reform and we were working on updating bus service and the question came up of trying to have real-time updates on schedules and it turns out there are 3 location transmitters on each bus none of which can be accessed by the bus company.

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  2. “The reason there are no realtime countdown clocks on the F line is that even the tower operators don’t know which train is where. All they can see is that a certain section is occupied by a certain anonymous hunk of steel. It’s anonymous because no one has a view of the whole system. A hunk comes into one section of track from somewhere else; the tower’s job is to get it through their section efficiently. The next tower they pass it to will likewise not know whether it’s an F, say, or a G. When there are incidents, trains are located by deduction.”


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