As the Subway system slowly (very slowly) modernizes, newer trains are starting to have pre-recorded announcements that are clear and easy to understand. That’s great, right? Well, there are probably just as many if not more older trains where the conductor makes the announcements live. And yes, many times you can’t quite make out what they’re saying, but the unique announcements are one of the joys of the Subway. Each conductor has their own way of making the announcements….some rant on about stepping in to the middle of the car.
Then there’s always the fun task of actually saying the names of stops. My personal favorite is 103rd St. The recorded announcements say it properly…”one-hundred third street.” I’ve definitely heard multiple conductors say “one-oh-third.” It’s great! Just, not for the unsuspecting tourist whose never used the Subway before.
On the subject of Subway confusion, one odd thing they do here is list both ends of the line on each train, not just the destination. This really confused me when I first got here, particularly on non-traditional stations where the track across the platform isn’t going the opposite direction. On one of my early voyages, I had just gotten into Queens and instead of going further into Queens as I intended, I ended up back in Manhattan due to this confusion.
Another strange thing in terms of a lack of modernization in the Subway is that the MTA has yet to implement some way of tracking the exact location of trains. They only know where they are based on their stops at stations, which means there’s some guesswork involved. Their strategy is to keep a wide number of blocks in between trains (which means that they could greatly increase the number of trains they have running). Usually the solution to a train that is so behind schedule that another train is pretty close behind it is to have it run express past some of it’s local stops. Usually, without warning, they will slow down while passing the station and honk. One odd time though, the train came to a complete stop and just sat there with the doors closed for a minute or so before it started moving again. It never even opened the doors! At least when this happens, another train is just 2 minutes away or so.