City Pests of the Fourth Kind

October 1st, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

For most New Yorkers, dealing with pests is an almost daily occurrence. The city’s 311 call center has been hit with so many bed bug complaints that the bed bugs eventually made an appearance there! But unfortunately, there are certain kinds of pests that you can’t get rid of with a little bit of Raid. More specifically, the MTA and its planned-but-somehow-missable service changes are a different kind of city pest altogether.

Picture this: You get up early one weekend and run through your daily routine, catching the train in order to make a doctor’s appointment in the next 30 minutes. You sit down in your seat and distractedly open up your kindle, or power up your i-pod for the next few moments… until, with a horror, it slowly dawns on you: Why is the train stopping at Essex instead of Broadway-Lafayette? Whereupon the mad dash to get off on the next stop and get to the correct train line ensues. Sound familiar to anyone?

Perhaps this is why the MTA decided to give their service change notice signs a makeover. The endless stream of complaints about the confusing posters have resulted in the debut of a completely new design, which the MTA hopes is an improvement from the old posters. The new service change signs include transit information about the train concerned as well as its connecting lines, making changing trains a little clearer to straphangers. Although our blogging buddies at 2nd Ave. Sagas are happier with the new signs, other ideas on the notorious MTA posters have been pitched in the past.

In a more humorous attempt to display the frustrations of working New Yorkers towards the MTA, the Working Families Party created satirical “service change” posters that graced subway stations around the city in March. Although city transit officials didn’t see the humor in these posters, 77% of readers who took a NYDailyNews poll did. Ironically, this was not the only time that MTA poster designs were used as a means to advance satirical messages.

In April, graphic designer Jason Shelowitz, 30, chose to use the MTA-style service change posters to send out messages to a different kind of pest: New Yorkers themselves. Hopefully between the new service change posters and the etiquette slap on the wrist, we can all be polite to each other while we ride the subway, even if we end up going to Flushing when we meant to go to Red Hook.

First published: September 12, 2010

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