Most New Yorkers have memorized their daily subway soundtrack: There’s the two-toned “ding-dong” doors-closing chime, the three-note whistle that resembles the opening of Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” as some trains roll out of the station, and that insistent siren that erupts whenever the emergency door is pushed open.
Last month, the MTA without fanfare added another one: A short three-note pattern that sounds more Disney World monorail than Penn Station. Sounding like a xylophone, the notes — G, C, and E to be exact — reverberate in the caverns below Gotham right before a safety announcement is made.
A recording of the new ring. Story continues below.
“We wanted to do something that would alert customers to a forthcoming message that was relatively important,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “We wanted to use something that would grab the customer’s attention, while at the same time still being pleasant sounding.”
Siemens provided the transit agency with a few different tones to use with new PA systems the MTA is installing at 146 subway platforms. So far, 143 that use the new musical alert are in place, on the Nos. 1 through 6 lines.
“Anything that gives people time to pay attention to announcements is a good thing,” said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. “Sometimes I’ll be reading a book or talking to someone and I’ll join the announcement midway and I’ll miss what’s happening.”
But several riders interviewed yesterday said they hadn’t noticed the new chimes.
“I’m always listening to my iPad, so I probably wouldn’t ever hear it,” said Edwards Graham, 25, a songwriter from Flatbush, as he waited for an uptown No. 1 train.
Rich Crankshaw, a broadcast journalist and voice actor from Bushwick, said that although he doesn’t normally pay attention to the subway system’s sounds, it could be comforting to others.
“It sure is a way to keep people familiar with something,” said Crankshaw, 46, as he waited for a downtown train.
“It’s not something that’s annoying, it just is,” he said after the tone played a second time. “It’s just another part of the city.”