Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blinding Transparency

I'd always sort of admired Metro for posting their disruption reports on their website.

I've not seen anything like that on other transit websites, though I admit my search was not exhaustive.

Sure, the reports painted a sometimes ugly picture (sometimes funny), but in those reports, in black and white, was Metro coming as close to baring its soul as it has ever has: a quiet but refreshingly frank admission that things are not right.

Those reports were, by far, the most honest thing ever to come out of the Jackson Graham building.

But they're gone.

The same "We are currently exploring ways to use technology solutions to allow us to provide disruption information in an online format" message has been there for months.

For a while, the old reports lived on, languishing unupdated, but with the new transparency, those too, appear have died a quiet death.

Let's be real here about the bureaucratic, impenetrable "Vital Signs" reports that appear to be the replacement. They don't come one tenth as close to painting a quick, accessible, accurate and brutally honest picture of the state of Metro as the disruption reports did.

But disruption reports aren't the only thing that's wilting under the intensity of the new Metro transparency sunshine.

The police blotter, a daily tally of crime on Metro and another piece of basic information riders can really use, hasn't been updated since March.

Want to know what station has recently been a hotbed of criminal activity? Good luck.

I can't begin to imagine the conversations that were held among Metro's crack team of very highly paid communications professionals, but their decision (or acquiescence) to toss these two important pieces of data overboard robs all of us of information we have a right to know--about a transit system WE PAY FOR!

Additionally, the apparent shiftiness of removing/not updating the information without announcement further damages (if that is imaginable) Metro's reputation among the riders--the very people that pay those bloated six-figure salaries.

Instead, we get "MetroForward."

It's a shame.

Other items:
The Social Subway (City Paper)
Man hit by train recovering (WaPo)
Sleeping station managers still on duty (WJLA)
Bye bye benches at Gallery Place (DCist)
Metro gearing up for MLK dedication (WMATA)

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