What are these stickers?
April 12, 2007 5:53 PM   Subscribe

What are these stickers I keep seeing on the NYC subway?

I keep seeing these star and triangle stickers in NYC subway cars. What do they mean? Where do they come from?
posted by idledebonair to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know, but if this isn't you, watch this space.
posted by Miko at 7:08 PM on April 12, 2007

I don't know what they mean, but they are MTA stickers; they signify something about the particular car you're in.
posted by crickets at 7:28 PM on April 12, 2007

I don't have an answer, but I have been meaning to ask this question for weeks. I just keep forgetting to bring my camera to take a picture.
The only thing I have to offer after staring at these things for a month is that I've noticed they are usually directly above the square-ish access panels that have ads over them. But not always, so I'm stumped.
Looking forward to AskMe's brilliant answer.
posted by Hadroed at 7:34 PM on April 12, 2007

Do you have a version of that photo that's not as zoomed in?

I think they have something to do with what's in the compartments above them. I noticed that one is marked "SubTalk" -- perhaps some kind of intercom/PA system? They both have locks on them, which makes me think there's something removable in there, or some sort of controls.

The triangle makes me immediately wonder if there's some kind of hazard/emergency kit in the compartment above it, which would make sense if it's right next to an emergency intercom. Why they wouldn't just use internationally-accepted symbols (which exist for basically everything) I don't know, but maybe they don't want to be too obvious about where possibly-stolen stuff could be?

I think your best bet for a solid answer might be to ask on one of the railfan bulletin boards. I bet someone on SubChat or RailFan Window would know for sure.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:42 PM on April 12, 2007

These were featured in TimeOut NY a while back--you might try a Google search of their site. The stickers indicate the locations of certain mechanical items behind the relevant panel. I think one was a hydraulic control or something. The MTA does not like to talk about the stickers, out of concern for sabotage, etc. (An anonymous subway employee spoke to TONY for their article).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:54 PM on April 12, 2007

Best answer: Admiral Haddock, is this what you're talking about. It's gives a terse, vague description of what they are. Involved in "maintenance" or something.
posted by jourman2 at 8:10 PM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

From the TimeOut NY article jourman2 just posted:
"The star sticker indicates where a car's brakes are, while the triangle indicates the motor."
That sounds pretty good to me.
posted by Hadroed at 8:21 PM on April 12, 2007

That's the one--thanks for tracking down the squib. As the piece says, "[t]he star sticker indicates where a car's brakes are, while the triangle indicates the motor." Idledebonair, is this sufficient, or do we have to track down what "maintenance" means? Since the brakes and the motor are, clearly, not themselves behind these panels, I would wager that each panel contains some sort of master killswitch for the respective system (or the system on that side, as I think there is one set of stickers on each side of each subway car). I think this explanation would be reason enough for the MTA not to want to disclose their precise functions, but it is just conjecture on my part.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:27 PM on April 12, 2007

Kadin2048: "SubTalk" is a label that appears on MTA informational posters. That was the bottom of a poster in that photo. No connection with the symbols.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:05 PM on April 12, 2007

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