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  • "Attention Passengers": not for Signs

    December 6th, 2022
    On the MBTA, when a train is coming you get an announcement like:

    Attention passengers, the next red line train to Ashmont is now arriving.

    As with all the announcements, there's a text version:

    I like that they have the signs, both for general accessibility reasons and because you're often in a place where you can read the sign but not hear the announcement. But I don't like that they include "attention passengers".

    Including those words in the audio version I understand: you need to catch peoples attention before you start giving them the information. On a sign, however, it's not adding anything. What makes it worse here is that the critical information, which direction the arriving train is traveling, is pushed onto the second screen. Someone who could have enough time to catch the train if they started hustling when the announcement first came up, might well not have enough time if they need to wait for the second screen about ten seconds later.

    This isn't a problem for me anymore, now that I've set up my phone so that checking train arrivals is low-friction but it was minorly frustrating for years.

    I suspect all it would take to fix this is editing some tiny file that stores the announcement text...

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