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Thursday, November 23, 2006


More on Metro Subway's Lack of Time Displays

Last time I took the subway it struck me again what awkward choices MTA makes in terms of what to communicate to their customers. There were 5 announcement, first in English, then repeated in Spanish at the station, all within the span of about 15 minutes. 5 announcements, all reminders of Metro's pity rules, such as gas powered scooters not being allowed, eating, smoking or drinking not being allowed, etc, etc. And as usual, it was quite clear that virtually no-one was paying attention to them.
And then on the electronic displays, on all of them, were all these notifications, which never fail to impress in the wrong way. If you stand at for example the Universal City station, and try to make a quick assessment of where most of the passengers are likely to be heading, you must presume that most of them will not be heading to Pasadena anytime soon. Most of them will most likely head to Hollywood, Downtown/Union Station or anywhere in between. Yet on all these electronic displays are these obscure messages about some repair that's going to be made on say, the 'north bound Metro Gold Line track to Pasadena, on very specific times and dates.
The displays also drag on. So even if you're that 1 in 10,000 Metro riders that find the information meaningful, you must spend an undue amount of seconds with a tilted head just to read in those couple of sentences. So the moral is that essentially useless information is even being displayed to slowly.

What if they did the same thing at airports; imagine if LAX replaced all their arrival/departure information with rule reminders for people. That'd be ridiculous! But that's really how patronizing the MTA is.

If they weren't half asleep, they would be displaying train departure information by default, and then add in whatever else as a secondary. For example, they would be displaying the date and time, followed by the next train departure, and cycle between those two, as a default. At least if they knew what efficiency was. Then maybe once hourly they could add in those obnoxious "Attention Metro Gold Line Customers: on Friday the 25th of February between 2:2:45 pm to 3:07:PM Pacific Time, a partial repair will be performed on the Northbound track at Chinatown, north of Downtown L.A, on the way to Pasadena, but not South Pasadena, and not Long Beach. If you are traveling to Pasadena on this day of February, please be aware that trains may not be running as usual...After Friday the 25th of February trains will start running on regular schedule again........................zzzz"-messages, as deemed necessary. It just seems disturbingly awkward to waste all that screen display with information that's relevant to a miniscule amount of people. Why don't they just display train departure times?

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