Real-time countdown clocks coming to SEPTA subway platforms this spring

SEPTA aims to eventually roll out the software across all modes
SEPTA subway platform
Photo credit Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio, file

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It’s something every SEPTA rider wants to know: How long until the next train arrives?

They won’t have to guess for much longer. Countdown clocks are on the way to SEPTA’s subway platforms.

The transit agency has been working on the functionality for years. Spokesperson Andrew Busch said the first transit countdown clock should be in operation by the end of March.

It will be at the 13th Street Station on the Market-Frankford Line.

“We’ll work on the Market-Frankford Line first, and then move on to Broad Street and the other modes, which would include the trolleys and Norristown High-Speed Line,” said Busch, noting there is no exact timeline for rolling out countdown clocks across all modes of transportation.

As countdown clocks are rolled out, riders won’t see new signs, but rather digital messages incorporated into existing screens.

The Broad Street, Market-Frankford and trolley lines all have different signal systems that track vehicles’ location, and software had to be designed to integrate them.

“It’s kind of attaching newer software to an older signal system, working out the bugs with that,” added Busch. “We think we’re in pretty good shape with that now.”

The project was supposed to launch in 2020, but the pandemic and a malware attack set it back a few years.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio, file