Thursday, October 22, 2009

Metro's Tweeting has Unsucked a Lot

Is it possible that there is some slight unsucking going on?

We haven’t been offloaded from an Orange Line train in weeks, which could just be a lucky run, but the announcements on the trains seem to be clearer, and just the other day our station manager buddy Khalil was spotted chatting friendlily with what appeared to be a rider, not a co-worker. This is in stark contrast to the last time we saw him hunkered down in his kiosk of solitude.

There certainly haven't been as many twitstorms of late, and finally, someone was actually wiping down the grungy metallic median on the upper escalators at Federal Center SW the other day. That thing looked like it hadn't been touched since the Carter presidency.

Have you noticed anything?

Anyway, the jury is still way, way out on this, but there’s certainly one performance metric that has shown conclusive and indisputable improvement, and that’s Metro’s tweeting, long the source of good-natured mockery on this blog.

Over the past week or so, there were only a handful of cut off messages.

Now, dishing out praise for appearing to understand Twitter's 140-character limit may seem over the top, but hey, it’s Metro, and we’ll take any improvement we can get.

In the meantime, here's a little of suggestions for Metro, which is by no means comprehensive, but could totally eliminate those unsightly cut off messages:

Addison Road=Addison Rd
Both directions=both dir
Pentagon City=Pent city
L’Enfant Plaza=lenfant
Eliminate the word “line” altogether
Prince George’s Plaza=PG Plaza
Metro Center=Metro Ctr

There are more, but baby steps. Come on @metroopensdoors! You’re almost there!

Other items:
NY's MTA gets creative with fares (NY Times) h/t @RegBazile
LA transit union says no to cameras (LA Times) h/t @hostagehoosier
Relive 6/22 (WTOP)
Metro to test buses for emissions, cost effectiveness (Examiner)

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Anonymous said...

I agree the Orange line has been rather comfortable this past week or so. I have seen a few employees smiling though most still won't meet my eye. (I won't bite and I do "assume the best until proven wrong.")

They need to cull down some announcements too. Never start the "not like elevator doors" message with "First time riding metro! Great!" It is an instant tuneout to everyone. Simply state, "Hello Metro Riders! DID YOU KNOW that train doors won't bounce open like elevators? Listen for the chimes and stay safe out there!"

It would work. Don't thank me for riding. No need. I pay, you serve well-We all happy.

I do hope this is a sign of better Metro things to come. I am rooting for ya Metro!

Anonymous said...

@ Anon, I agree, also they should say "Will not" not won't since it sounds too much like will (which is what I heard the first few months I was riding and was thoroughly confused).

A couple days ago while on the Yellow line at the airport the driver not only mentioned which directions to go for what airlines but also the time and temp. I was very impressed although I never heard another time/temp announcement afterwards (and I have heard them a few other times in the past year).

Alicia said...

Pentagon City = PCity

Matt' said...

I like the idea of shortening station names, however "PG Plaza" won't fly. The PG County leaders through a conniption whenever anyone in an official capacity shortens Prince George's to PG. They regard it as insulting, despite the fact that their neighbors to the west are just fine with the abbreviated "D.C."

Erik said...

I noticed the last few times through New York Ave, the train operator mentioned to transfer here for Greyhound bus service. It seems like a good idea to acknoledge other forms of transit, so everything can work as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I think that the Orange Line has been a little better the past few weeks. I have also noticed less crowding on the trains, which is consistent with the reported drop in ridership. And I suspect that those two are related - a major contributor to suckage is the overcrowding, which puts more strain on the doors and other mechanical aspects of the system, and which makes things even worse when trains do have to be offloaded. With fewer passengers, the system is not constantly at the breaking point.

Dan Franzen said...

You know what announcements could be truncated? The ones that begin with "attention customers traveling on or connecting to the Red Line." Why not just say "Attention Red Line riders"? That covers everyone who needs to know.

Metro's announcements are so lengthy that people just plain tune them out. They need to be concise and informative.

Anonymous said...

I think you may have just doomed the Orange Line with your comments....

Let's get Metro Fixed said...

@12:50 anonymous

You may be right: Train malfunction on Orange and Blue lines AND a cut off tweet to announce it.

J. Thomas said...

D'aw...that's like saying "what's the worse that could happen?"...

Anonymous said...

"You may be right: Train malfunction on Orange and Blue lines AND a cut off tweet to announce it." That's an Orange Line Suck Trifecta, right there. A small one, though.

Seth said...

"Now, dishing out praise for appearing to understand Twitter's 140-character limit may seem over the top, but hey, it’s Metro, and we’ll take any improvement we can get."

You're settling if you think that deserves a commendation. Many a gradeschool student has heard criticism for expecting grand praise upon finally doing some task correctly that everyone else has managed to do regularly, or for sitting still and not calling out of turn. To paraphrase the usual teacher-response, what does WMATA want, a medal? Just meeting a reasonable standard that everyone else is easily capable of meeting does not warrant reward or commendation. We have lowered our expectations too far if we entertain this or take it lightly. Seriously, WMATA sucks these days, and it has been getting by for far too long on past (very old) successes. It needs an overhaul of major proportions, and we need to keep on them to force their hand.

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