Since I walk to work I’m not a frequent subway rider. But yesterday I took the F train to Brooklyn to see a friend who was visiting from out of town. I was on what’s known as a R160 train, which the MTA has been phasing into service since 2006. Besides these trains being clean, fast, and smooth, they also sport a pretty amazing interior display system called FIND (for Flexible Information & Notice Display).
This may be old news to many New Yorkers, but it was novel for me. I found the displays to be a brilliant execution of smart engineering and clever design.
The multi-colored displays show station names, borough changes, and transfer lines cleanly and clearly. The information is dynamically updated at each stop and can reflect station skips or temporary service changes in real time.
What’s most clever though is how the devices handle the display of every station on even extended routes. To do so they display the next 10 stops in fixed positions, and then show subsequent stops in rotating groups of 5 in a dynamic “Further Stops” section. You can see in this video (at the 12 second mark) how the display changes from stations 16-20 to 21-25. Announcements are also fully automated, as you can hear in this clip.
These smart displays are a world of difference from the plastic display cards still in place on many NYC trains, and they are about the most sophisticated system I’ve seen on any transit system I’ve ridden in the world.
I’m not sure who handled the electronics for the display system, but Kawasaki Heavy Industries handled the overall engineering for the train. Well done. And kudos to the MTA for getting these into service.