Features NY Life — 14 April 2011
The MTA Help Point Pilot Project

Switching from an express to a local train at Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall recently, we came across a new, illuminated installation, never before seen. Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Transit Authority designed a pilot program beginning at two subway stations called “Help Points.” The program is an upgraded communications system which have been designed to be easy to use and highly visible, offering the ability to communicate instantly for assistance and to get immediate information under any circumstance, with a simple touch of a button.

The small booths offer subway passengers waiting on platforms the opportunity to effectively and quickly communicate with train personnel and can be utilized for emergencies or simply to request travel directions- a big help for tourists and even some locals, who never seem to be able to understand our complicated subway system. Additionally, each specific “Help Point” will be synchronized so that help will know exactly which pod is requesting assistance, allowing responders to reach the desired pod quickly.

The booths, which are currently only installed in two stops along the Lexington Avenue line, are designed with an emergency button in red and an information button in green. Emergency calls are routed to the subway Rail Control Center and information based calls go directly to the station agent. Interestingly, if the pilot plan performs well, the next step would call for the installation of these “Help Points” in each of the 468 subway stations that currently exist. Look, we’ve been harsh on the MTA from time to time, and what the cost for this plan to run citywide appears unknown. But the reasoning behind the placement of these safety pods is sound…just so long as our monthly Metrocards don’t get any more expensive.

What are your thoughts on the debut of this program? For more information on the MTA “Help Points” Pilot Program, check out Help Points

- Jane Van Arsdale

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