My favorite NYC subway journey is the 7 train from Grand Central to Flushing. The passengers are no less rude and smell no better than on other routes, but most of the 30-minute ride is continuously aboveground. Through the windows you see daylight, the weather, the glory of Manhattan fading behind you, the vastness of Queens. Seeing scenery whiz past makes you feel like you're traveling; but if you take, say, the A train to Harlem—Ella and Ellington aside—you feel like you're being rattled around in a box for a half hour.
UK-based Matt Batchelor, Amrita Kulkarni and Emma Laurin feel underground riders' pain, and worked on the early stages of a solution last semester as students in the Industrial Design Engineering program at the RCA. Their Canopy concept calls for an e-paper display to be fixed on the ceiling of a subway car to provide underground riders with some semblance of a connection with what's going on upstairs, however artificially.
A worm's eye view of passing landmarks above you and a generated sky put you back in contact with real life on the surface; unobtrusive, curated advertisements about events and promotions along your route break the monotony of the daily grind into work....
Passing landmarks, events and promotions are shown at the relevant locations as the train progresses along the line. The content, stored on an embedded PC in the carriage is updated via WiFi connection either at the depot or in the tunnel, depending on where service is available.
Probably too much to ask for, but what I'd love to see is the entire interior of a train papered with this system, rather than just ceiling-mounted. Craning your neck up to see out is still better than no view at all, but how cool would it be to rejigger the perspective to provide the illusion that the train was traveling not underground, but topside?