Next Stop, Sign Shop: Workers Toil Around the Clock On New MTA Signage

New York City Transit Spending $800,000 To Update Maps and Signs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    With major service changes coming at the end of June, News 4 New York's Andrew Siff got an exclusive look inside the MTA's Sign Shop. (Published Friday, Jun 4, 2010)

    They are visual instructions many commuters take for granted.

    "Late nights A stops here."  "B to 145th street."  "V to Second Avenue."

    They are some of the 55,000 signs in the New York City Transit system.

    Keeping the nation's largest subway system up-to-date is no easy task -- and ever since the MTA announced huge service changes will take effect June 28, artists at the little known "Sign Shop" in Crown Heights, Brooklyn have been working double-shifts get the job done.

    One of the main tasks: silk-screening new signage for the Sixth Avenue line, where the previously brown M train will become an orange-line train for the first time ever.

    The best thing about the job?

    "When you're walkin' through the system you get to see your work up," says Kirk Siee, one of a dozen artists at the Sign Shop.

    The huge facility -- in an old Brooklyn trolley barn -- is busier than at any time since 9/11, when temporary service changes required some quick new signs.

    "It's a huge challenge, but we embrace it," says John Montemarano, Director of Station Signs for New York City Transit.

    He explained that some of the tasks ahead are low-tech -- like placing decals over the soon-to-be-defunct "V" logos.

    Other projects are bigger, including brand new aluminum signs for much of the Broadway line, where the Q will be extended to Astoria instead of ending at 57th Street.

    He noted, "If we had to change every sign, we'd have to start three years ago," says Montemarano.

    The total price tag for new signs, station maps, stickers, decals and other renderings is estimated at $800,000.

    But it's all worth it if commuters on June 28th have a smooth ride, says Sign Shop superintendent Keith Parker.

    "These guys are professionals," said Parker. "If June 28th comes and you don't get complaints? That's pride in itself. And an accomplishment."