On Monday, Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York (MTA) rolled out On the Go! Travel Station, a 47-inch interactive touch-screen that provides travel information relevant to both locals and visitors.
On the Go! Travel Station is currently being piloted at the Bowling Green subway station (lines 4 and 5). The device will be installed at four other locations this fall including Penn Station (Long Island Railroad) and Grand Central Station (Metro-North). If the pilot program goes well, MTA hopes to install the device throughout the city's stations.
The device is similar to an enlarged smartphone, with MTA information comparable to what's on their Web site. Users can find planned and unplanned service changes, plan a trip to and from a subway station or address, and find schedules for not only the subway but the bus and commuter rail as well.
The device is great for visitors, with key destinations and directions to New York City museums, parks, and other sights. Users will be pleasantly surprised to find Zagat restaurant guide and MyCityAPP, which searches destinations by category and distance from your current location. Selected information can then be emailed or text to the user.
Unfortunately, the device is currently only in English, which hopefully will be modified in the future.
Howie Eisenstadt, of New Jersey, thought the new interactive system was a great improvement to the static maps.
The interface is familiar, people will be able to pick it up, he told IBTimes, describing how many of the features are similar to the online MTA Web site.
Everyone wants to know about service status, Eisenstadt said. I used it on my way home last night and avoided problems.
His favorite feature on the new system was the handicap planning it allowed. The system tells passengers not only which stop has elevators or escalators, but whether they are currently in service.
Miles Medley, a Brooklyn native, was intrigued to explore the device when he thought it was a giant iPad.
I already know where I'm going, but if you're new to the city, this is great Medley said. There's no reason to get lost he continued.
MTA believes that advertisements displayed on the On the Go! Travel Station will offset any cost of installation, so subway riders won't bear the cost. The system was designed by Masamichi Udagawa of Antenna Design New York, who also designed the MetroCard vending machine.
It looks as through On the Go! Travel Stations are the way of the future not only for New York City, but throughout the world. The NY Daily News reports that transit officials from France even flew in to check out the new system.
If MTA follows through and releases the device throughout the system, it will be extremely helpful for both New Yorkers without smartphones and new travelers to the city.