Subway riders waiting for the L train this post-holiday morning noticed new LCD countdown clocks hanging from station ceilings, in a white-on-blue color scheme that some said is difficult to read, especially compared to the yellow-on-black 1990s-era LED screens they've replaced.
"Great example of public design's irritating over-reliance on screens," rider Henry Garber wrote on Twitter. "In this case, LEDs were cleaner and clearer."
— Padric Gleason (@padricgleason) May 30, 2017
The new LCD screens are part of a program announced last summer to add countdown clocks to all of the lettered train lines in the system, according to an MTA spokesman. The MTA piloted LCD screens on the N, Q and R lines starting last August. One rider noted Tuesday that the L line got a countdown clock upgrade while the other lettered lines are still waiting for their first clocks.
New L Train countdown clock alert pic.twitter.com/VjSdbtshqX
— Michæl 🐩 (@DomiFanOtherKid) May 30, 2017
"As for the old clocks on the L line, they were installed in the mid 90s, so they need to be replaced," said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz on Tuesday. "They're being installed at other locations as well as part of bringing train arrival info to the lettered lines."
Ortiz did not comment on the new color scheme, and whether it will be applied to all lines.
Not everyone took issue. "What I like about the [new] signs on the subway are that they're subtle," said Steven Heller, co-chair of the MFA design program at the School of Visual Arts. "It doesn't seem to be a perceptive or cognitive problem."
"What strikes me as an odd choice is the colors of the new MTA buses," he added. "Because they are so bold and obtrusive."
A recent amendment to the MTA's 2015-2019 Capital Plan includes $38 million towards signaling upgrades and countdown clocks on the remaining lettered lines: the A, C, E; the B, D, F; the G; and the J, M, Z. A promise of system-wide countdown clocks made in 2009 has been kicked down the road for years. Today, MTA spokeswoman Beth DeFalco declined to comment on the current installation timeline. "[We] will have more to announce on that soon," she said.
— Second Ave. Sagas (@2AvSagas) May 30, 2017