Volume 23, Number 8 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 2 - 8, 2010
Signs translated in Chinese mysteriously appeared at three Chinatown bus stops on Wednesday.
Mysterious signs appear after Chin sends out press release
BY Aline Reynolds
The Chinatown community, among others around the City, is outraged that the M.T.A. has not translated signs in non-English speaking communities such as its own. District 1 Council Member Margaret Chin says community members who can’t read the signs are now left in the dark.
“Failing to notify non-English speaking New Yorkers about these cuts is particularly glaring because they rely on public transportation,” Chin said in a statement on Tuesday. “It’s a sign of deep disrespect towards New York’s immigrant communities that these signs were not installed months ago.”
The M.T.A. has had three months to prepare the signs, the statement added, since the cuts were announced at the M.T.A. Board Meeting on March 24.
Several service changes were made to compensate for the M.T.A.’s $800 million budget cap. A series of public hearings were held between January and March that allowed for public feedback on how these cuts should be administered, according to M.T.A. NYC Transit Authority Spokesperson Deirdre Parker.
Thousands of signs have been recently posted by the M.T.A. announcing the recent service changes. Second-language English speakers are asked to call New York City Transit’s multi-lingual information line, 718 330 4847, or to visit the M.T.A. website (www.M.T.A..info/NYCT, click on “Read More”), to get the messages translated into their language of choice. The site provides a Google translation in over 80 languages, according to Parker.
But some New Yorkers who rely on public transportation don’t use the Internet, according to Council Member Margaret Chin.
“As if this weren’t bad enough, referring New Yorkers to a website — in English — shows how little thought went into reaching out to these communities,” said Chin.
Over 47 percent of New Yorkers live in households where non-English languages are spoken, according to the council member.
“This particular change was so massive—thousands and thousands signs had to be changed,” Parker said in response, adding that there is no plan to post additional signs in languages other than English.
“If we did Chinese, we’d also have to do other languages,” Parker added. “It’d just be too much paper everywhere.”
“Conductors and trains only make announcements in English,” Charles Seaton, another M.T.A. New York City Transit spokesperson.
According to Spokesperson Nick Kelly of Council Member Chin’s office, Chinese signs about the service changes were posted on three Chinatown bus stops on Tuesday night.
The M.T.A. told Chin’s office on Wednesday afternoon that it was responsible for putting them up. “We spoke with a representative from the M.T.A. who confirmed that they had put up the signs unofficially,” Kelly told the Downtown Express.
But New York City Transit Authority, speaking on behalf of the M.T.A., denied that the Authority had anything to do with the new signs.
“They’re not official M.T.A. signs [and] they were not put up by the M.T.A.” Parker told the Downtown Express on late Wednesday afternoon.
Parker confirmed that signs about weekend and overnight changes are posted in several languages at respective bus stops and subway stations, but she said that this is a “unique circumstance.”
“I don’t think anybody knows the last time in recent memory that we’ve had this many changes at once,” she added.