The New Red And Orange Line Trains Could Have Some Fancy Features

Passenger counting systems, new train stop announcements, and LED maps might be included.

MBTA passengers taking the Red and Orange Line have become accustomed to finding impromptu-maps haphazardly hanging on the sides of train cars, filled in with marker, and advertisements made of cardboard sagging from their slots overhead.

According to documents posted by MBTA officials recently, after Governor Deval Patrick announced millions of dollars would go toward purchasing new train cars, those small details could get an upgrade, making commuters feel like they are actually traveling inside a world-class vehicle on their way to work.

A more-than 640-page document called “Red and Orange Line New Vehicle Procurement” details changes straphangers could see when the entire fleet of 120 Orange Line cars are replaced, and 74 new Red Line cars hit the tracks.

The MBTA expects to award a contract for the cars by the winter of 2014-15, with the condition that the final assembly of the cars take place in Massachusetts. Following the required and extensive pilot train testing, Orange Line car delivery is scheduled to begin in the winter of 2018-19, and Red Line car delivery should happen in the fall of 2019.

As far as stability goes, per the T’s specifications in the report, the train cars should be designed to operate at 80,000 miles per year, with a minimum service life of at least 30 years.

But there are other changes riders could see on the inside of the train cars, too. Those upgrades could include an Automatic Passenger Counting System, which would help the transit agency track its customer base. The system would keep a tally of all passengers boarding and exiting the trains at each door.

“This will be a first for MBTA cars,” said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo in an email.

Upgrades may also feature LED displays inside the cars, and interactive maps that tell riders what stop they are on, and which one is next, similar to those used in New York City trains, eliminating the current maps hanging overhead.

The document says these are optional features the builders can include in their pitch to win the bid to construct the cars, however.

If they do choose to include them, riders could also see LED displays for additional passenger information and active route maps with the capability to display advertisements. “If the price is right, we will exercise this option,” Pesaturo said.

Mandatory digital upgrades on the cars will include an LED front destination sign installed on each train, and exterior LED side destination signs on each side of each car—two on each side for the Orange Line cars and three on each side for the Red Line cars, according to the T’s requests.

As for announcements about stops, the trains will have systems installed that will save operators from speaking over the intercom, which can leave riders confused as they try and decipher what is being said. According to the document, the new train cars will have “passenger information system that informs passengers of station stops, connections, train route, and special announcements in audio and visual format.” They will also inform customers about delays, and emergencies.

Riders can also expect to see an increase in on-board security cameras, something the MBTA started adding to select trains last year. The new train designs call for CCTV systems for “passenger safety” reasons. Each car will have 8 digital IP video cameras in the passenger areas, providing views of the doorways, and the entire car.