New York’s Subway System Resorts To Digital Messaging To Warn Distracted Pokemon Go Players

July 20, 2016 by Dave Haynes

Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

Concerns about subway riders being dangerously distracted by their need to do whatever the hell they do with the red-hot Pokemon Go augmented reality mobile app has compelled MTA New York City Transit to start running safety messages on its On The Go Travel Station kiosk network.

It’s a four and half foot drop to the tracks, ouch, and it hurts even more if a train comes in. But then, you DID catch a virtual cartoon character on your phone, and that’s worth dying for!

The campaign has a brief animation warning customers to stay safe as they play the game.  The messaging, says the MTA, uses the iconic red and green “Bubble People” figures used in the popular ‘Courtesy Counts’ campaign, combined with language from the agency’s ongoing platform safety campaign. The red figure turns green once he does the safe thing by stepping behind the yellow line.

The text reads: “Hey Pokemon Go players, we know you want to catch ‘em all, but stay behind the yellow line when in the subway.”

The text inside the frame adds: “In 2015, there were 172 incidents involving customers who came into contact with trains; 50 people died.”

The On The Go campaign started last week. “We want our customers to have fun but we also want to remind them to play smart and play safe,” says Paul J. Fleuranges, Vice President of Corporate Communications for NYC Transit. “For customers our key takeaway is please stay behind the yellow line at the platform edge when you gotta catch’em.”

The MTA has 200 On The Go units at 39 subway stations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, and plans to almost double that by the end of this year.

Subway riders use the screens to view real-time service status of subways, buses, and railroads, get travel directions with Trip Planner, access elevator/escalator status, and scan MTA, neighbourhood and station maps. The screens are also used to push service alert and emergency messaging to the entire kiosk network, a select group of kiosks or an individual unit during a service event or emergency situation, posting granular service alternatives at affected locations.

Also with the MTA, New York’s governor announced plans this week for new subway cars by 2020 that would have WiFi, USB charging ports and digital screens inside for ads and telling riders the route map and next station.

There are also plans for more digital on the platforms.


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