The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has moved ahead with a new emergency intercom system for every subway station, to either give directions or send along police or medical assistance. NY1's Transit reporter Tina Redwine filed the following report.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials say help for subway riders is on track to be just a push button away, with the Help Point Intercom. The MTA installed the machines at a couple of stations last April in a pilot program and now the agency will install one on every platform at every subway station citywide.
Help Point has two buttons. The red one connects the user to a dispatcher who knows where the machine is and can hopefully send police and emergency medical personally there quickly in an emergency.
When one presses Help Point's green button, the user is connected to the nearest station agent, who can answer questions about bus and subway needs.
"It’s going to make people feel more safe," said a rider.
"Some people try to rob people’s stuff and now all you need is a button and the cops will be here to help you," said another.
The MTA has had so-called "customer assistance intercoms" underground for years, but how well they assist is hard to say.
The MTA says the new intercoms will be wireless, with a blue beacon to show where they are. They will be built camera-ready, but the MTA says it would be too expensive to put cameras in them for now.
"You know how the city has money for other stuff. Why don’t they have money for people’s safety?" asked a rider.
The pilot cost about $300,000 per underground station, but the MTA will not say how much the full installation will cost. The agency says it's figured that into its capital plan. Once it is approved, it will set up a rollout schedule and request bids for the work.
A high-tech device the MTA would like to roll out is the "On The Go" tablet, a virtual assistant that gives riders directions, service updates and information on nearby attractions.
Prototype On The Go tablets were installed in three stations last September, but the MTA says right now there is no money for a citywide rollout.