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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 2, 2009 at 4:58 PM

King County Metro

Attempts to modernize fall flat

King County Councilmember Dow Constantine got it exactly right when he criticized Metro Transit for the agency’s archaic systems and resistance to embracing new communication technologies [“Metro rebuked for snow response,” Local News, Feb. 27].

In July 2006 I wrote a letter to Metro, in which I suggested the agency take immediate steps to enhance communications, including setting up a delayed-route hotline and initiating RSS feeds to push real-time updates to riders.

Nearly three years later, Metro has neither made progress nor shown interest in making progress in the way the agency communicates to its riders.

Further, even when Metro has attempted to test new technologies, such as Wi-Fi on buses, the agency has fallen flat. Even today, the only information regarding Wi-Fi on buses that one can find on the Metro Web site is a 2007 news release announcing a pilot program that will continue at least through the remainder of 2007.

Imagine buses equipped with Wi-Fi, wherein riders were using Twitter to communicate in real time, the status of their specific bus. It has the potential to be an exceptionally accurate, cost-effective communications program.

Three years ago, Metro’s communications abilities were abysmal. Today, it’s even worse. No wonder Microsoft has abandoned Metro altogether and rolled out its own transportation fleet, complete with Wi-Fi. If only the rest of us were eligible for such a service.

— David Schwartz, Seattle

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