MTA Signal Memo

Erik Yan

Dr. Carrie Hall

Eng 1121


I found 3 articles discussing the signals used for the trains by the MTA. The first article I found was from and I found that the MTA subway system is using signals and switches from 80 years ago. In the article, they talk about how the MTA replace and repair the old components used for the train signals. They have not yet upgraded to something more modern. The article also brings up the cables in the tunnels are covered in 70 year old cloth which can have the problems of catching fire and water damage. The train dispatchers had to manually write down when the train entered the station. The way it is displayed is on a blackboard with small lights to represent each station. These are too outdated for today’s modern technology.

The second article I found was from and I found that the MTA is in need of funds. They said the signal upgrade for the 7 line was originally estimated to cost $140.1 million but it actually cost $405.7 million. They discuss more about how MTA still needs a lot more money to upgrade it ancient subway system.

The third article I found was from and I found that they talk about the history of the signals used by the trains. The subway signals we are using now is called a fixed block system. Each signal shows the status of the track. They said it is a system that works but if something goes wrong, it really bad. The article also talks about how the fixed block signal doesn’t really tell the train operator much information besides that the rail is blocked or not. Without any more information than that, train operators cannot really do much but play the safe game. They cannot go faster because they may hit another train which is not a good thing. This train signal issue also kind of creates the overcrowding issue because there may not be enough trains. Whatever trains are at the platform will get filled to the brim and become overcrowded too.

Leave a Reply