As the MTA aims to bring subway service into the 21st century with wireless service in stations and countdown clocks, ideas abound about improving the riding experience. While the ideas can range from fantastical to common sense, amNY picked five of the most intriguing ideas for changing the riding experience.
1: Music turnstiles
Forget buskers — musician and former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy wants subway riders to make their own music with turnstiles. In an interview with Sound Opinions this month, Murphy said he has been pushing for 14 years to have turnstiles that would “make a beep of a certain note” so “during rush hour in the bigger stations, it hopefully would make a beautiful piece of music.” An MTA spokesman said the agency had reached out to Murphy but never heard back.
2: Pop-up shops
The MTA is helping retailers open pop-up shops with month-to-month leases to get vacant space filled while the agency seeks long-term tenants. Trendy Uniqlo became the first official pop-up store to open in a subway station in October (right), following a summer run of The Newsstand, which over the summer sold indie magazines at the Metropolitan Avenue station on the L and G lines. Jeffrey Rosen, the MTA's real estate director, said last month that hip retailers can use subway pop-up shops to reach savvy young riders.
3: Bike storage
As transit use grows among younger New Yorkers, so is bicycling. That increase in bicycling “is likely to bring with it greater demands for accessibility to and use of MTA facilities.”
In the MTA's 20-year needs report, the agency says it needs to consider better accommodations for bicyclists, such as bike storage on buses and at rail and subway stations.
4: Show Time!
The dancers who flip and spin through train cars give riders a show — but also a risk of getting kicked in the head. Randy Gregory II proposed in his 100 Improvements to the New York Subway creating special Showtime! Cars to give the dancers their own space to entertain riders for an evening. “The MTA could even charge for this kind of event,” Gregory wrote on his site.
5: Vignelli maps
The iconic Vignelli subway map from the 1970s fell out of favor over the decades, but the design is making a comeback. Kickmap (below) is an iPhone app that blends the current MTA subway map's geography with the easy-to-read linear design of Massimo Vignelli's creation. Vignelli, for Men's Vogue in 2008, updated his 1972 map for today's subway system. Meanwhile, the MTA brought back the Vignelli design in 2011 for its Weekender website.
Eddie Jabbour, creative director for Kick Design, the company behind Kickmap, acknowledged the Vignelli influence. “It's a hybrid map that combines the best attributes of a diagram map and a topographic map,” Jabbour said.