But this week commuters were greeted with something else: an automated voice, broadcast over a series of speakers on the station platform, telling them how many minutes it would be until the next Manhattan-bound train arrived.
Astorians took to Twitter to express their appreciation for the updates.
"It's modern times in Astoria," one user wrote. "For the first time ever train announcements are being made."
"A mechanical lady voice just told me how long I have to wait until the next N/Q train! #movinonup," another tweeted.
But the excitement might be premature.
According to a spokeswoman, the MTA is only "testing" the train arrival messages at stations between 39th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard. The spokeswoman would not comment on whether the announcements would be a permanent fixture at the stops.
While many stations on numbered lines throughout the city boast the now familiar train arrival countdown clocks, MTA officials said in 2012 that it could be several years before countdown clocks could be installed at stations along lettered train lines, because those stations are older and have an outdated signal system.