By Alex Silverman

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The MTA has installed countdown clocks at every subway station in New York, but at dozens of stations across the system, an apparent flaw in the system renders them, for the time being, nearly useless.

Screenshot of the SubwayTime app.

At stations near the ends of lines, the newer clocks and the MTA’s SubwayTime app typically display only a countdown in one direction — toward the terminus — the opposite way most riders on the platform are headed.

“What if I need to go downtown?” asked Keema, looking up at the countdown clock in the 86th Street station on the 2nd Avenue line, which displayed only 96th Street-bound trains. “That’s crazy.”

“If someone’s going to take the train to 96th Street, for one stop, maybe they do want to know how long it takes,” one rider said. “It’s a little silly because it’s only going one stop but we could use the opposite direction.”

A complaint on Twitter generated a response from the MTA’s official subway account, which seems to indicate that the system only generates a countdown once a train has left its starting point at a line’s terminus:

At the very ends of lines, the screens do seem to display countdowns in both directions, but it is not clear why this data is not reflected at nearby stations.

The older countdown clocks on the numbered lines as well as the L line, which use a different technology that tracks the actual position of trains, do not seem to be troubled by this issue.

The newer clocks, which the MTA touted as a less-expensive alternative, rely on Bluetooth devices that interact with the existing wireless networks in each station.

“We are looking into this,” said an MTA spokesman.

“I hope they get it fixed quick,” Keema said.

  1. The same problem occurs with apps that track express buses. Useless.

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