Monday, April 4, 2011

Real Time Displays (Update)

Hi all! Here is a bit of an update on my earlier post about what I thought were going to be real time displays on the Red Line. Yesterday, as I was waiting for a Red Line train to Central at Park Street, I noticed the display that I talked about in my earlier post. I saw that it was lit up and displaying something. I ran over to it, almost tripping, and noticed, to my disappointment, that it was not displaying real time subway data, but instead was showing a quad-screen view of multiple closed circuit cameras. When I got to Central I noticed that same thing on the displays there too. I thought to myself, "Why on earth would the T display c.c. video footage of their stations?" I then came to the idea that maybe it may be for the motormen.

The way the system works now, each red line train, which consists of six cars, has two motormen on it: one who is in the first car and one who is in the third car. Both motormen are responsible for opening and closing the doors for their half of the train. In order for the motormen to know when to close the doors at a station they must hang out the windows on either side of the train. If these monitors are for what I think they are then the motormen will now be able to just look at the monitor to see when they can close the trains doors. Another interesting thought I had was that maybe these were part of the first steps to eliminating the second motorman from all Red Line trains.

The MBTA has been proposing, for quite a while now, to eliminate the second motorman position on the Red Line in order to save more money. Last year the T cut the second motorman position from all Orange line trains and it seems to be working fine. The reason I believe this may be one of the first steps toward this happening on the Red Line is because the monitors and cameras are strategically place so that the Motorman in the first car can get a full view of their entire six car train. This will make it a lot easier for the motor man to lean out his window to see down all six cars. Especially during rush hour when there are tons of people on the platforms. I keep you all posted when I find out more though.

Now back to the real time displays. Yesterday Aaron and I went on an adventure on the Blue Line to Maverick Square in Eastie. As we were waiting for the Blue Line at Government Center we both noticed a very dirty LCD screen, which you could tell had been repurposed, and was displaying realtime Blue Line data. The top of the display says "Blue Line Service (Pilot). I am guessing it is part of the same pilot program the T initiated on the Orange Line. I really hope it sticks around and starts popping up at more stations because it was amazing to see exactly where the next train is and when it will be arriving.

When Aaron and I got off at Maverick station we noticed that the station had its own way of displaying real time train data. This being in the form of a huge horizontal map of the Blue line tracks which shows the location of every running train by lighting up lights along the tracks. Not sure how old this is but I will try and find out!


  1. The horizontal track diagrams have been there for a few years, I think. I hope the real time train location (the pilot ones on the Orange and Blue lines) project moves beyond the pilot program because it's really nice to know where the next train is.

  2. Thanks Tyler! and I feel the same way!


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