The “Countdown Clocks” in the NYC Subway system have proven to be very useful. The MTA and NYCT should be commended for this. Occasionally, though, the Countdown Clocks provide a little unintentional humor.
This morning at the Grand Central-42 St station of the 42 St Shuttle, the Countdown Clock was displaying the fact that the next train to depart from Track 4 would do so in 21 minutes. There’s probably nothing technically wrong with that. The train on Track 4 only usually operates during peak times. It wasn’t yet in-service when I took this photo, and it very likely was going to go into service in 21 minutes. But the information is not terribly useful to riders. When it’s closer to departure time, say less than 5 minutes (basically one interval, more or less), then it probably makes sense to start displaying the information. If the doors are closed and the interior lights are turned off, most people will know that the train is not in service and to wait for a train on the track that is listed on the Countdown Clock.