As several commenters have noted, Sound Transit is starting to visibly test their next train announcements.  Oran shot the video above.

Testing is only occurring in isolated instances, and should be going on for the next month or two.

I hate to nitpick, but I’m not a huge fan of the scrolling — it’s possible to legibly encode a lot of information on a small board without doing so. [UPDATE- in the comments Sherwin says that the display will generally be static, with only intermittent scrolling.]

56 Replies to “Next Train Announcement Testing”

  1. The reader boards will eventually have a static display of the next three trains, and the scrolls will only happen at two minutes and five minutes before arrivals, you know, for the inattentive or blind rider.

    1. Agree – the scrolling is harder to read. It is especially annoying on the destination signs of the Link trains. They should simply have the destination in a static form that fits the display.

      Many of the words in the scrolling displays are superfluous. By editing them they can fit the message in a static display.

      1. The L line has a pilot system, but the rest of the system won’t see anything until next year.

      2. The Pelham Line in the Bronx is also getting them. 4 stations now and more every month, to hit 152 stations within a year.

      3. Pelham, eh? Is that real-time information why that guy tried to take all those hostages on the 123? Oh wait, that was a movie. And it happened before, in the 1970s. Maybe that’s how Gene Hackman was able to follow the train in his car?

      1. BART has the best 1970s robot voice for this. “9 car Pittsburgh/Bay Point train now approach at platform 2”.

      2. I guess the rest of the world lives in danger then, because I have never seen this ANYWHERE except Seattle

  2. I’m very glad to hear that there will be static displays for the next trains, and not just the scrolling and audible announcements. For static displays above the platforms, I think the information should be specific for that platform (show only northbound trains on the northbound platforms, etc). Also, instead of announcements that say “northbound” or “southbound”, I think it would be better to show/say the destination station – like “The next train to Westlake Station will arrive in 2 minutes”. The problem with “northbound” and “southbound” is that it isn’t enough information for trains that end at Mount Baker or SODO, and it will also get very confusing with East Link sharing the Central Link platforms from Lynnwood to IDS/Chinatown.

    1. As a follow-up … Imagine if you’re blind waiting to get on a train at Othello going to Westlake. If the next train is going out of service at Mount Baker, you may just want to wait until the following train that goes to Westlake. The information should show/say the destination station.

      1. It should use the terminus station name. You need to have all information provided be consistent. Inconsistent information is what messes up users. I have to say that I can’t remember of any systems (except for Swift) that uses a cardinal direction. How does someone that only knows Japanese know North = Westlake Station and South = Seatac Station. Yeah doesn’t translate.

  3. What about “NB Mt Baker” or “SB Othello” for the signs, which for audible announcements would be read as “northbound train to Mount Baker”? Directionality alone is insufficient, but I hate how most transit agencies just use the final destination when announcing trains.

    And as everyone else has said: I hope they make those signs static real quick.

    1. The final destination is what really matters. If it says NB to Mount Baker and the train ends there, you don’t know as a blind user that you’ll be kicked off.

      1. It should always be the final destination that’s announced, and visual and audible cues should always match, abbreviations notwithstanding. (If by using “SB Othello” as an example I implied that something other than the final destination should be announced, I didn’t mean that. It was just a random not-the-regular-end-of-the-line choice. Wherever the train is going to end up is what should be announced.)

    2. Boston uses “inbound” and “outbound” on its signage. London trains, I believe, state the desination over the intercom, and they change if a train ends its run before its line’s final stop.

  4. Now if they would just make the outside destination signs on the trains themselves static as well!

    1. That would indeed be wonderful. Maybe inside, too… I seem to get a little motion sick with the scrolling when the trains are moving.

  5. I think it’s exciting! I emailed Sound Transit last month to get an update and they said they’d be starting mid-February. Good to see progress

  6. *Will* they ever make the signs on the trains themselves static, does anyone know? Or could they be convinced to? I don’t even have serious vision problems, and I still have a hard time with the scrolling.

    1. Also, they should leave off the word “station”, as in “Westlake Station”, “SeaTac/Airport Station”. You don’t see MAX trains in Portland that say “Gresham Station” or “Hillsboro Station” do you? In fact, I can’t think of another rail system that does this. Southbound trains should just say “SeaTac/Airport”, northbound ones should just say “Downtown Seattle/Westlake”, period (unless of course they’re not going to the end of the line).

      1. The Minneapolis trains also say “Station” every time. It gets kind of annoying there, too… at least the signs flip instead of scroll.

      2. The word “station” is redundant, in the context that you’re already in the system. The line maps above train doors and inside stations don’t append “station”.

    2. I agree those are kinda annoying. Portland’s balious signs scroll up/down but they stop so you can read the information. Link just kinda scrolls across making it difficult to read.

  7. I hope that the signage will scroll warnings about terrorism or preventing swine flu (sneeze into your elbow!) just enough to be annoying, cause missed boardings because the important destination information is not shown due to the P.S.A.’s, and thus get ignored by riders due to their irrelevancy.

    Because that is what LA Metro sure does.

    1. P.S. I hope the is an ST policy against putting “Go (Professional Sports Team nickname here)” on these and on their transit vehicle destination boards.

      Or “Happy (Holiday)” or “Good (Time period of Day)”.

      Because again, it is done in other USA cities and has been just long enough that I was not able to identify the route or destination of the passing transit vehicle, which at the time was EXTREMELY annoying.

  8. It would nice to have ads (Oran’s already spotted on) and a system map on the inside of the trains.

    1. A little while ago I was looking around the Link train hypothesizing on where they might put a system map. Maybe at the front/back of the cars, although that would be hard for most people to see.

    2. +1. Does anyone know (1) why there aren’t more ads, and (2) how much revenue other agencies generate? I know every CTA (Chicago) bus and train interior is plastered with ads, as are the stations and bus stops.

      1. Yeah, though ads aren’t necessarily the prettiest thing in the world (some are neat, though), if it means more money for Sound Transit, I’m all for ads on the train. Plus, it gives you something to look at while riding through the tunnels.

        They could also have posters that remind people that fares need to be paid, etc. (In Germany they have the posters reminding you not to be a Schwarzfahrer — their term for a non-payer — and listing the fines. Like this: http://capl.washjeff.edu/1/m/1140.jpg Obviously we would need a different term here, but the warnings wouldn’t hurt.)

  9. For the past 3 days, the 8:32am Sounder has been more than a minute late in arriving at Kent Station. Today, when it hadn’t arrived at 8:34am I noticed the next train sign said “Train to King Street departed”. So, it departed before it arrived…go figure!!

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