Signs of improvement
NJ Transit installs informative touchscreen kiosks
by Rory Pasquariello
Reporter staff writer
Jun 13, 2018 | 2525 views | 0 0 comments | 249 249 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tall vertical touchscreen kiosks were installed at three Hudson County rail locations – Hoboken Terminal, Exchange Place, and Newport.
Tall vertical touchscreen kiosks were installed at three Hudson County rail locations – Hoboken Terminal, Exchange Place, and Newport.
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The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail is beginning to solve its signage problems by going big – screens, that is. Light rail stations at Exchange Place and Newport, as well as the Hoboken Terminal and Newark Penn Station, now have installed large vertical touchscreen kiosks that display directions, departures, alerts, and system status in real time for the entire NJ Transit system. NJT is the third largest public transit system in the country, with 252 bus routes, three light rail lines, and 12 commuter heavy rail lines. The screens also display advertisements and warn riders to be alert to potential terrorists.

Kevin Corbett, executive director of NJ Transit, was appointed by NJ Gov. Phil Murphy to lead the agency in January after working as a vice-president at the multinational engineering firm Aecom. He said in a press release that the kiosks are meant to help passengers “quickly learn the current service status for their particular trip as well as their travel options for rail and light rail. We look forward to hearing feedback from customers on this latest informational asset as we continue to modernize and expand customer communications at stations and terminals.”

The kiosks are meant to complement digital signage already installed and information available on the NJ Transit smartphone app.

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“They look great.” - Brian McNare

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Not there yet

But the agency still has a lot of catching up to do. Its smartphone app user interface leaves much to be desired. The LED screens onboard the light rails that inform passengers what stop is coming up next are often wrong, and the LED screens at the stations that display how many minutes until the next train arrives are often inaccurate.

“The signs are terrible because they don’t work,” said Jane Canary, a Jersey City resident and frequent light rail passenger. “It works maybe once in a blue moon.”

Meanwhile, other passengers were pleased with the high-tech kiosks. “They look great,” said Brian McNare, who commutes to downtown Manhattan from his home in Bergen County.

“Hopefully it will be easier to see when my train is leaving than on the app, which isn’t so good.” Alerts about delays in the NJ Transit system will be especially helpful this summer whenthe agency implements service cutbacks as it installs positive train control on its heavy rail and PATH system. The federal government mandated the agency to do so after an investigation into the Hoboken train crash in 2016 that killed a woman and injured more than 100 others. The investigation revealed that the absence of the technology contributed to the accident, as well as a series of derailments and service issues.

Affected services

On June 4, 18 trains were discontinued or will undergo major changes to install positive train control. The schedules for four lines will be affected: the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, Morris & Essex, and Passaic Valley Lines. Of the 18 trains, two Morris & Essex trains will leave from different origin stations, while other lines may also have minor schedule adjustments.

PATH riders will also be affected for 17 weekends with the closure of Exchange Place and World Trade Center stations during the weekend of July 7, while all New York stations on the Hoboken-33rd Street line will be closed on the weekends from July 14 to Oct. 28.

During this period, the Hoboken station will remain open for riders to get to the World Trade Center and Journal Square on Saturdays. But on Sundays, there will not be any direct service to the World Trade Center, so riders leaving from Hoboken on Sundays will have to take the train first to Journal Square and transfer at Grove Street.

The Hoboken station will be closed on three Sundays: Sept. 16, Sept. 23, and Oct. 14, beginning at 11:59 p.m. the night before. The closures will run each weekend from 11:59 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. the following Monday. The closures will not be in effect on Labor Day.

Rory Pasquariello can be reached at roryp@hudsonreporter.com.

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