August 7, 2013 By Christian Murray
While it is still going to be years before Astoria subway riders get to see countdown clocks, the MTA has taken the interim step of introducing audio announcements, which states when the next train will arrive.
The MTA announced Wednesday that it introduced audio announcements on the N and Q lines last week. Furthermore, the agency said it plans to refurbish six N/Q subway stations in Astoria over the course of the next 2-to-3 years.
The announcement comes after years of prodding by State Sen. Mike Gianaris, who began pushing for the audio announcements back in 2010. The visual countdown clocks are not expected for another 3 to 5 years, according to the MTA.
“The audible announcements will still inform riders as to when the next trains are coming,” Gianaris said. “If it is the dead of winter, people won’t have to stand out on the platform and suffer the cold weather—they will be able to get some protection by going down stairs.”
The “lettered” subway lines (such as the N/Q) are more antiquated than the other lines, making it more difficult to install the countdown clocks, according to officials. Even receiving the audio announcements was a stretch.
Gianaris said that the N/Q lines are among the first of the “lettered lines” to receive audio announcements.
The MTA plans to begin refurbishing the stations in two stages. In 2014, it will start revamping the Ditmars, 39th and Broadway stations.
In 2015, the MTA will start work on the other three stations (30th Ave., 36th Ave., Astoria Blvd) —provided that the state legislature approves the MTA’s capital plan next year.
Gianaris said that the MTA will get the funding, and said the work is essential since the number of riders in Astoria/Long Island City continues to increase as these communities continue to grow.
The MTA plans to repair the staircases, canopies and platforms—while installing new benches and adding art work.