James Murphy’s Plan To Fix The Subways May Finally Have a Shot

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He’s been talking about it for years now (and reportedly working on plans since the mid-90s), but with the forthcoming overhaul of the MTA’s card-swiping system, James Murphy’s plans to ease the aural assault of a trip into the subway system  may finally get off the ground. The idea is a simple one, to replace the horrible screeching that accompanies a swipe at the turnstile with a set of complimentary, more muted tones (the mock-up, included in the video below, is soothing and lovely).

The Wall Street Journal has an update on the project today, writing, “Now, [Murphy] believes his plan finally has a chance, as the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority embarks on a $900,000-a-year project to improve passenger flow at some stations by repositioning turnstiles, furniture and emergency exits.”

“It’s just an opportunity to have something quite beautiful in a place where something beautiful seems impossible or unlikely, he said. The hope here is that the software could be seamlessly installed while the MTA switches to the new, swipe-free turnstiles, and that De Blasio would be more amenable to the project than Bloomberg, who never even took a meeting with Murphy. “If the mayor wanted this to happen, I know there’s someone who could make this work,” said Murphy.

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg sounds less  enthused, calling the project “a very cool idea” but adding that it’d likely be time-consuming and expensive, and the MTA isn’t particularly inclined to slow down their system “for an art project.” Of the current, unpleasant state of subway noises, Lisberg says, “We really don’t care.”

The subway overhaul isn’t scheduled to happen til 2019, so time will tell, I guess. For his part, Murphy told the WSJ,  “If it doesn’t happen I’ll be broken hearted.” Us too.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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