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NYC Transit Authority Embraces Podcasts

The agency that runs New York City's subways and buses is presenting podcasts in six sections: customer safety, building for the future, promotions, security, advisories, and news.
New York City is taking advantage of the popularity of iPods among its 130 million transit riders by introducing podcasts that provide information and tips about public transportation.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs New York City's subways, commuter trains and buses, has introduced TransitTrax. The podcasts are presented in six sections: customer safety, building for the future, promotions, security, advisories and news. Some feature new technologies authorities are testing in subways and on buses.

A timely news podcast explains why most subway stations are hotter than the baking pavement above ground.

Engineers, transit workers and a narrator explain how the air conditioning on trains actually expels heat in tunnels and stations. The outdoor heat is also drawn inside by a piston effect as the trains rush through tunnels, according to the narrator. Brakes, motors and electrical systems add to the heat, according to the podcast. Riders looking for air-conditioned stations can listen for key locations interspersed with technical details about why Grand Central can accommodate air conditioning and other stations cannot.

Another podcast explains plans to install hundreds of digital recording cameras for surveillance on buses. The cameras will be equipped with wireless technology that allows bus drivers to pull into depots, connect to servers through wireless access points and upload data. Transit authorities say the data will not include audio recordings and will be stored for 90 days. Images marked because of incidents under investigation will be stored longer, according to the podcast.

The $5 million Eyes On Board program could help with law enforcement investigations as well as providing information on passenger injury claims. Injury prevention is the focus of two other podcasts: one on avoiding slips and falls and another telling people to stay off the tracks.

Another newscast riders can listen to on their iPods covers new technology that will allow riders to pay for trips without having to swipe MetroCards. New MasterCard "Tap and Go" technology will allow riders with contactless Citibank debit and credit card holders to test the technology at stations equipped with wireless readers. Customers can prepay online or by phone for a 20 percent bonus or pay as they go.

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing