Boston’s MBTA introduced "stopped-train" messaging to its Countdown Clock system this week, along the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines, as well as at Mattapan Trolley stops. In the fall, similar Countdown Clock messaging will be rolled out at Green Line stations where Countdowns are available.
In response to customer feedback, MBTA staff has developed the stopped-train messaging on Countdowns to improve real-time communications with riders. The stopped-train messaging works within the real-time predictions for each subway line, being triggered when a train has spent two minutes longer than predicted in an area of track. When this threshold is reached, customers in individual stations will see "Stopped X stops away" on Countdown Clocks.
The current Countdown Clock system displays real-time information in minutes within stations based upon each train’s movement through a particular track section/signal along each subway line. In the event a train experiences an unscheduled disruption that causes a delay (such as a medical emergency, a mechanical problem, or police action), the train stops at a station or along the track until the disruption has been resolved. The Countdowns currently installed within the MBTA system, however, become "stuck" and continue to display the last estimated time of arrival. As the new technology will be able to track when trains are stopped, this will help provide more accurate information on a train's arrival time to customers.
"This new features is in line with our ongoing mission to improve the customer experience," said MBTA GM Luis Manuel Ramírez. "By addressing a common customer complaint, this improvement provides useful information to our customers while minimizing potential confusion caused countdown signs when trains are stopped."
The upgrade is part of the MBTA’s ongoing improvements to the real-time information available to customers, including apps for mobile devices and the displaying of next train arrival information on street level signs.