Play Music in Station Entryways

Nudging Up Customer Service: Long-Term Solution

Problem, Classification, and Idea

Music has been known to make spaces more inviting and improve customer waiting experiences.[1] Adding music to stations and concourse areas could improve the customer experience from a number of aspects, most notably a perceived decrease in wait time.


Market East station already features Smooth Jazz played over the PA-system in the concourse level of the station. While this practice is effective in NJ Transit’s 7th Avenue Concourse in NY Penn Station, the same can not be said for Market East. Unlike NJ Transit customers who must eagerly wait on the concourse level for their train’s boarding location to be posted, Regional Rail customers know their train’s boarding location well in advance. As a result, many choose to wait directly on the platform level, thereby rendering the music useless for all but the small subset who choose to remain in the waiting area on the concourse level. Expanding this practice of playing music to the platform level would likely improve waiting conditions for the majority of waiting customers. In addition, expanding this to other Center City stations, such as Suburban Station and 30th Street Station, could make the waiting more bearable for the nearly 37,000 using those two stations. Adding music to some of the Center City subway/elevated lines might also be beneficial, although more research would need to be conducted to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of such an implementation.

While waiting at a subway/elevated or outlying station is generally less pleasant than waiting in a Center City station (due to station amenities), it is NOT recommended that music be added. This is due to the fact that the current speaker design plays muffled announcements and adding muffled music would likely lead to decreased customer satisfaction, if anything. Improving the speaker infrastructure at outlying stations would be entirely cost-prohibitive and would not generate anywhere near a substantial-enough return.

Adding music to the concourse areas surrounding the subway would be beneficial in that they would increase Customer Satisfaction, the high cost of audio infrastructure causes such an initiative to be of concern. Seeking external musicians to play in the concourse, effectively an expansion of the existing Suburban / Market East performance program, would be able to achieve the same benefit at minimal administrative cost. Additionally, given the preexisting database of performers and the excess demand for performance space, this is something that could be implemented and translate into improved Customer Service as early as tomorrow.

Long term, it might be helpful to promote the concourse space as an event venue by perhaps investing in a performing arts stage in the South Broad section of the concourse. A promotional music festival held throughout the entire concourse, along with a main event on the large stage, could help attract customers to a rejuvenated and more inviting concourse area.

Next Steps

  • Determine where speakers are currently installed as well as how the system could be modified to play music from the backend.
  • Find out about licensing possibilities or any charges that would have to be associated with playing recorded music.
  • Speak to music program administrators to discuss the possibility of expanding the program to various areas of the concourse.


[1]Antonides, Gerrit, Peter C. Verhoef, and Marcel Van Aalst. “Consumer Perception And Evaluation Of Waiting Time: A Field Experiment.” Journal Of Consumer Psychology (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates) 12.3 (2002): 193-202. EBSCO MegaFILE. Web. 21 July 2014