Sunday, October 22, 2017

Confusing elevator buttons @MTA

I tweeted about this before, but that didn't change anything.  I also really want to get into more detail how the elevator buttons at the Times Square Subway Station in NYC are confusing.  This elevator is one of the most heavily used elevators in the world, I suspect.

The Times Square Subway Station accesses at least 12 different subway lines.  People who use the elevator have to figure out which level corresponds to which lines -- but you can't.

Virtually every time I get into this elevator there are people who are confused.  *

Here are the buttons
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Now, in a better world, these buttons would be labelled, from top to bottom


  • N, Q, R, W, S and uptown 1, 2, 3
  • downtown 1, 2, 3
  • A, C, E & Port Authority Bus Terminal [through a 1/4 mile tunnel that includes a ramp that is too steep to be considered wheelchair accessible]
  • 7

Labelling, a floor "mezz," short for mezzanine, is totally meaningless.  How is a tourist, or an older person who is becoming confused, supposed to figure that out?  Normally, they probably think of a mezzanine as the floor in a hotel where there's a nice lounge.  You're not going to find that in the NYC subway.

"7 AVENUE PLATFORM" -- how would anyone guess that the MTA thinks that the downtown 1, 2, and 3 are the 7th avenue train?  They're only on this avenue for part of their route.  Also, again, it's only the downtown trains that are on this platform.  The uptown trains have to be accessed via the upper mezzanine and a second elevator.  Also, for someone who doesn't know where they're going, the number 7 on this might be confusing, because they might think it refers to the number 7 train.

The tunnel on the lower mezzanine is really a very useful thing, if you're not in a wheelchair.  It takes you over to 8th Avenue without having to outside.  You avoid traffic.  You avoid getting rained or snowed on.  It's perfectly good for strollers and wheeled luggage.  But it's not useful if you don't know what it leads to: just lower mezzanine.  Above ground, the MTA advises people to use the street to get to the 1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, W, & S if they're near the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  That doesn't make sense to me.  The tunnel is a wonderful resource. Maybe even someone in a wheelchair might use it if someone strong would help them.

"Flushing Platform" has become out of date.  The number 7 train also now goes to the Hudson Yards, to the west, not just Flushing to the east.  But for the casual tourist, what is Flushing anyway?  That's sort of obscure for non-New Yorkers.  Wouldn't they be more likely to recognize the word "Queens?"  The 7 doesn't just go to Flushing to the east.  It has a number of other stops in Queens.

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*footnote
I personally use this elevator quite often, because my neurologist advised me not to wear a backpack or carry a heavy purse, because of my disk issues.  She told me to get wheeled luggage, so I go everywhere with a shopping trolley.  This is actually a medical condition that makes me do it, so I try to take an elevator when I can, to avoid carrying the trolley up and down stairs.  Because I'm in there so often I observe how people are riding up and down the elevator several times, because they're not sure which floor to get off on.

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