updated 10/17/2007 5:50:04 PM ET 2007-10-17T21:50:04

After emerging from the labyrinth of New York City’s subway system, riders often feel they could use a compass to navigate the world above.

Now transit officials are providing one, in the form of large stickers pointing out north, south, east and west and the nearest streets in each direction. The city is testing the decals at four midtown stations, with the idea of installing permanent ones in various places if the response is good.

Subway stations often have multiple exits, with signs specifying the cross streets at which a given exit is located. But even experienced riders sometimes have trouble figuring out which way they’re facing once they get to the street.

“Not a single person, native New Yorker or visitor, can truthfully claim that they have not, at least once, been confused as to which direction to walk when emerging from a subway station,” city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said as officials showcased the new stickers Tuesday.

The Grand Central Partnership, a business group dedicated to improving and promoting the area near Grand Central Terminal, is paying $15,000 for the compass-sticker tryout, President Alfred C. Cerullo III said.

Meanwhile, transit officials are working on another effort to make the subway system more inviting. About 250 additional workers have been hired to clean it, and plans call for adding 100 more, NYC Transit President Howard Roberts Jr. said. The $7.6 million initiative comes after many riders gave the system bad grades for cleanliness in recent surveys.

Almost 5 million passengers ride the subways on an average weekday. The 660-mile system has 468 stations.

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