January 4th, 2007
|11:33 am - The Talkie T train has been drinking; my necktie is asleep|
Many of our T trains feature automated station announcements; we've called them "Talkie T" ever since they came out in the late 90s. It's all computerized and you might think it would be easy to keep running smoothly, but sometimes Talkie T gets tired of saying the same things and decides to do a little improvisation of its own. Here are some of the station stops and announcements my Red Line train just made around 10:45 this morning:
Now I've heard the misplaced station announcements before, like the day when every station was Mattapan, but I've never heard the segmented vocal pieces stitch together a train destination announcement and a "change here for..." announcement. But you know, we were on a Braintree-bound train and Braintree has commuter rail connections, so technically Talkie T wasn't lying. Maybe it didn't realize that.
- Davisporter (would be a great band name but someone kind of beat Talkie T to it in a roundabout way.)
- Porter SqUmass
- Davis-Savin Hi-JFK/UMass (We had pulled into Charles for that one.)
- The destination of this train is for the commuter rail.
I think Toronto's new trains are going to be talkie trains. We already have some talkie buses. They also have a little display panel that shows the name of the next stop in bright amber letters.
I suspect, however, that the drivers who don't bother to call the stops when the bus is packed to the gills and the windows are too muddy to see out of will also forget to turn on the notification system. I've already ridden a few equipped buses who aren't talking and whose display panels just read 'System Paused'.
At first the only problems I ever noticed were trains announcing stops either ahead or behind the one they were approaching. So I figured their list of stops was stored as an array, and as the trains pass a sensor on their trips, the Talkie Computer is instructed to increment that array pointer by one and announce the next stop. Heck, depending on the direction of travel, you could use just one array and increase or decrease the pointer as necessary, but that would be efficient and useful.
In the case of a short run, then, (say an outbound train has to turn around at Harvard and head back inbound, or something) you'd expect they'd put in a way to reset that pointer or at least adjust it correctly, but that kind of useful option seems to have eluded the designers. Either that or the conductors just don't bother to do it.
This new rash of crazy-ass announcements doesn't appear to be related to any ordered list of stops. It appears to be a program deciding to just mish-mosh-mashemup all the vocal pieces ("Next Stop:", "The destination of this train is", "Change here for", etc.) But ... why?!
I always thought the computer word salad was caused by the engineer trying to reboot the system somehow. The whole Porter*hic*Davis*hic*change here*hic* sounds like someone fast forwarding through the list to get to where it's supposed to be.
I am probably wrong though.
Porterdavis is actually pretty good. I discovered CDbaby.com because of the signs Porterdavis put up near Davis.
I will listen for Drunky T.
Considering the group got its start busking on the T, it's quite appropriate! And I remember those signs, too.
I always have a near heart attack when I get on the T in the morning and it says, "The destination of this train is... ALEWIFE." And I'm all, "I know I do this every day and all, but shit! I got on the wrong train! Shit! Shit!" and then we get to Porter Square and I'm like, "Ah."
I love the name Alewife. And Mattapan.
In fact, it's my opinion that the T is the only non-London metro system on which Mornington Crescent can reasonably be played.
Porter Square is kinda squamous, now that I think about it.
The 'every station was Mattapan' bit is indicative of you channelling an american Douglas Adams, I think. It must be so.