There I was at Bergen St waiting for my train to work. I looked at the sign when I came in, it said 4 minutes, I said cool and turned up my ipod. A minute letter I found myself about to lean over the tracks to look for the next train. But then I remembered the sign, didn't lean, and felt a somewhat unpleasant feeling evaporate. A weight on my shoulders lifted and a knot in my gut untangled itself. Nirvana! (Maybe the existential lean is not so existential...)
I spent the next 2 minutes until my train watching people come through the turnstile, ignore the snazzy new real‑time sign, go right to leaning over the tracks, and get that sour "where's my damn train already?!?!" face.
I think there is going to a period of adjustment while New Yorkers (at least those of us using the IRT) adjust to the new reality. But when we do, it will be a whole new day. I wonder what other kinds of behavior changes we will see. Maybe if we can quickly look at the sign as we run down the stairs we won't feel the need to stick out foot in the closing door if we can see the next train is 3 minutes behind. Or maybe we will be more compelled if we see the next train is 10 minutes away.
My personal hope is that whatever positive benefits we experience from the real‑time information on the signs (and hopefully on our cell phones!) will motivate us all to get the systems in place to create same information on the rest of the subway system.