Photo by Oran

After the 2008 Snowpocalypse Metro put a lot of resources into improving snow response, particularly with respect to rider communication. On cue, the 2009-10 winter was a mild one.

The coming winter is supposed to be a bad one (consider today’s weather as a preview), and Metro is making a bit of a PR push to get people to subscribe to information flows of interest to them:

• Sign up to receive Transit Alerts for the routes you use most often;
(www.kingcounty.gov/metro/signup)

• Check the print and online timetables for snow route maps; (www.kingcounty.gov/metro)

• If the weather is bad, check the color-coded status map on Metro Online before you travel;
(www.kingcounty.gov/metro/snow)

I subscribe to alerts for routes that matter to me, and can testify that they aren’t overly clogged with “nothing to report” messages or other fluff.

14 Replies to “Sign Up for Transit Alerts, Already”

  1. Today’s alert was pretty useless:

    “We have been informed that communication to all ORCA readers did not happen has scheduled this morning, 11/1/10. If your ORCA cards did not read properly this morning, please try again this afternoon. We ‘the situation’ should be resolved by then. This information has been passed to ORCA security and drivers to the extent possible.”

  2. These alerts are useful overall, but the usefulness is greatly decreased by their non-descriptive subject lines. They are almost all of the form “Route 5, 54 & 55 is rerouted.” Which is bad because I am just about to get on the 5. Except then the body of the message informs you that it’s only a late-night reroute later in the week. I would prefer something like:

    MT 5, 54, 55 rerouted 10pm-5am 10/21-10/22

    This would get much more of the essential information into the subject line where it could be read without having to see the whole message–very useful on a mobile device.

    I sent a comment to support@govdelivery.com but they didn’t write back.

    1. The most annoying thing is Metro’s website, where a route frequently has a “rider alert” flag, but when you click the flag it goes to the general list of alerts and you have to enter your route number again, only to be told there are “no alerts for that route at this time”. So what was the phantom alert?

  3. Good advice. I had this set up for CT when I lived up there (I’ve forgotten to delete it, but I don’t get notices all that often), but never got around to setting it up for Metro. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. I’ve had mixed luck with transit alerts. I was subscribed to the routes I use most and would often get messages about a trolley wire issue that cleared up within 15 minutes, but not get messages about rerouting due to serious snarls downtown (most memorably, the immigration protests earlier this year). Or they’ll send out information on Twitter, but not via the text and email alerts. Emails to Metro on the subject always resulted in a form letter that felt like a brush off. Color me skeptical on how useful these will be in this winter’s potential snowpocalypse.

  5. I gave up with them on the 56. Midday announcements of the low bridge opening that are way too late to do anything about anyway just made it way too noisy.

  6. The worst thing is Metro’s announcement that they will cut 2/3 of of service in a future snow event, and the radio/GPS tracking system they have been working on for almost 2 years will not be available for use.

    I think this is a disaster. Metro should be ashamed.

      1. “I’d rather not drive in the snow with all of the clueless drivers out there”

        If you banned automobile traffic except for those with 4 wheel drive or proper snow tires with chains, emergency vehicles, and buses the situation would dramatically improve. Even better would be to require a snow-driving course, but I’ll be happy to limit it to those with proper equipment first.

        We can do that at the passes – why not in the city? There’s arguably more potential for injury and property damage in an urban area when you have a clueless driver trying to get around with bald tires. Even a casual look at King 5’s snow videos would prove that to the average idiot.

    1. That would be under another snopocalypse type event. They will be running core service that they know they can guarantee will be running. Would you rather they say they can just run everything and not be able to deliver or have them be honest and upfront about what is going to happen in another huge snowstorm? I believe this is going to be something decided on before service starts hat day and will be all day long so the news media should be able to let people know ahead of time when this will happen. For just normal snowfall there is a new system that will help people know which routes are on snow route and which aren’t.

      Will all these new plans work? I have no clue but I’d say Metro is much more prepared now than it was two years ago. Now if the cities would actually plow the streets the buses have to drive on it would be easier for everyone!

  7. Every year I keep on hearing how Metro has learned from their past snow communication mistakes, and how they have learned and are going to get it right this time, but when the snow comes, they fail again.

    So no, I’m not signing up for transit alerts. I’m not buying it this time.

  8. On the topic of alerts, perhaps I am missing something, but for the longest time I have been wondering. I receive ST alerts via e-mail, which is great. Sometimes, as below, it will state that the alert has been posted on the ST website and includes a link thereto. Yet I never seem to see the actual alert on the website. No biggie as I do receive the alert via email, but why can’t I see it on the website? I received the below this morning and clicked on the link. Couldn’t see the alert on the website.

    Train #1510 (7:20am) from Tacoma is delayed in Puyallup due to a car blocking the tracks, not #1512 as reported earlier. We apologize for the confusion. Thank you for your patience.

    Rider Alert: Sounder Southline (Tacoma-Seattle) for Sound Transit. A new alert has been posted to http://www.soundtransit.org/alerts

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