Some of our transit colleagues in New York have posited that next-train arrival signs are really just spoiler alerts.
In 2007, the New York City Transit Authority began installing LED signs
on subway platforms that display estimated wait times for arriving
trains. Unfortunately the information is little more than trivia: except
for a few stations, it is only visible to travelers after they've paid
their fare, so the data has little bearing on commuter decision-making.
Their primary effect, then, is to erode faith in the system, to create
expectations that can't always be met, to raise false hopes, and to
erase the mystery and magic of the wondrous system that transports more
than five million riders a day.
These LED signs also threaten historical social behaviors, rendering
obsolete the time-honored New York tradition of leaning over the
platform edge with the hope of glimpsing headlights from an approaching
This video is worth watching.