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This past Saturday, King County Metro rolled out three new public safety announcements to play on buses. A day later on Sunday, Metro decided to pull the plug and remove the announcements, effective Monday morning.

I got to be on the receiving end of the aural assault Saturday and Sunday, as an announcement played after every door closure and every five minutes thereafter, reminding riders to hold on while the bus in motion, to stand behind the yellow line, and most annoyingly, that their every activity is being surveilled and recorded and that illegal activities will be prosecuted.

While the first two were merely annoying and unnecessary, the surveillance message needed to be put back through sensitivity training. Hearing it every five minutes left me wondering if my driver was paranoid. Nor did the message educate riders on what the rules are. We later learned that drivers had no control over the timing or volume of these announcements, and that many of them were just as upset about them as riders were.

We are used to hearing announcements multiple times to please turn down the volume on cell phone conversations and music players, and they are played when someone is actually ignoring the rules. Usually, the announcements are effective, and don’t get the rider mad at the driver. This latest message about cameras recording all our illegal activities not only crossed the line of sensitivity, but quite likely had drivers worried that irate riders would take measures. And irate riders did take measures, flooding Customer Service with complaints about the announcements. Reading Metro’s @mentions on Twitter gives you a sense of the intensity of rider displeasure.

To their credit, Metro issued an apology and statement, late Sunday night. Of note, Metro promised to take better care before rolling out the announcements again:

We’ll be reassessing and taking into consideration concerns about the volume, frequency and tone of the announcements before moving forward with any revised announcements, and be sure to share them with customers ahead of time.

I hope that when considering future messages, they think not only of their content, but also their timing and automation. Drivers should have broad discretion about playing messages in contexts that make sense. Forcing riders to endure the same message every time the door closes – tens of thousands of times per year  for a daily rider – is indeed an unnecessary aural assault. Kudos to Metro for being so responsive to pulling the plug, and let’s hope that many valuable lessons were learned this weekend.

95 Replies to “Attack of the Incessant Insensitive Announcements”

    1. I don’t think they should have removed the announcements. All they needed to do was adjust the frequency and volume, and passengers would be more accepting of them.

    2. Brent, remove or turn off, my larger point was they overcorrected in their response to the outcry. If you mistakenly make too much food for dinner tonight, will your response be to never make dinner again? Metro now made two mistakes. Making the announcements too frequent. Then turning them off when some people complained. In my expert opinion, they should keep the announcements, but have them play much less often.

      1. Sam: Did you actually ride the bus and listen to the announcements?? If Metro was deluged with complaints about them, it sounds like there were more than just SOME people complaining.

      2. I rode the bus on Sunday, and wasn’t terribly bothered by the announcements. It’s no different than riding WMATA Metro or waiting for a BART train. I rode the 66 downtown from Northgate and the 41 on the return trip. The PSA about audio recordings is a CYA for KCM. For the audio recordings to be used in court, you need to be made aware of the audio recording. The existing signs aren’t clear.

        I was more annoyed by the lack of announcement or publicity of the DSTT closure…something that was blasted among the PSA’s. I don’t use Twitter, so that medium does little good for me. I even peeked on STs FB page and found little info on it.

      3. Beware, dinner guests: your every action is being recorded. We prosecute.

        Beware, dinner guests: your every action is being recorded. We prosecute.

        Beware, dinner guests: your every action is being recorded. We prosecute.

        Beware, dinner guests: your every action is being recorded. We prosecute.

        Beware, dinner guests: your every action is being recorded. We prosecute.

        Beware, dinner guests: your every action is being recorded. We prosecute.

        Beware, dinner guests: your every action is being recorded. We prosecute.

        Beware, dinner guests: your every action is being recorded. We prosecute.

        Beware, dinner guests: your every action is being recorded. We prosecute.

        Beware, dinner guests: your every action is being recorded. Yes, you, in the back. Over there. We prosecute.

        Thank you for writing on STB.

        I think I will pass on Sam’s dinner invitation.

    3. OMG – You should hear the announcements on the brand spanking new M8 rail cars on Metro North New Haven (CT) line. Repetitive, ear splitting and unecessary. Dozens and dozens all the way into Grand Central. At 5:30 am. Taste of the East…..

  1. Were they also playing that “bus is turning” message? I was really hoping that one got killed. (Isn’t that what a turn signal is for??)

    1. The turn signal is dead in Seattle. It’s been dying over the past five years, but the recent influx of midwest drivers put the nail in the coffin.

      1. Several years ago, Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion essentially confirmed this regional assessment, but got more location-specific.

        In Lake Wobegon Minnesota, average motorist considers turn signals irrelevant because everybody already knows where you’re going.

        This area’s worst problem is that often the driver can’t get their turn signal on at all, because lane system is so badly designed that you don’t know which lane to be in until you’ve already passed the exit.

        Say what you will about Los Angeles, but not only is general driving ability far superior to Seattle, but you get your lane assignment five miles ahead of every exit.

        Every time I qualified for a new route at Metro, I’d make it a point to drive it round trip three to five times in my car. Trolley wire helps somewhat- like if a street doesn’t have wires overhead, pick another one to turn onto.

        Off-wire batteries will soon take a lot of the stress out of learning process. Though it’s also valuable experience to learn to use road gradient and pole shifting skill to try and get back on the right wire.

        While not breaking a trolley pole or pulling down wire. However, real personal downside of naturally-assisted driving is a habit of increasingly weird STB comparisons with giant clipper ships and zeppelins.

        However, there is a very long line in Crimea where for fifty miles it’s never too flat to roll off a dead spot….


    2. That’s a different kind of message, that’s played on the outside of the bus. AFAIK it’s a pilot program on only a few buses. I haven’t heard it yet, so I don’t know how bad it is. In contrast, I heard the surveillance and other messages on nine buses Saturday and Sunday. The turning message is ostensibly to prevent pedestrian/bicycle deaths because people supposedly don’t notice turn signals enough.

      1. The turning message isn’t as annoying. Although it may save a life.

  2. “Kudos to Metro for being so responsive to pulling the plug”.
    Not so fast. Metro created the problem, and spent no telling how much on creating the messages, uploading, and then pulling the plugs on a couple of thousand buses.
    Somebodies star has tarnished, but c’mon, let’s Beta test some of this junk before jumping off the deep end of the pool with no water in it.

    1. I’m sure they will bring this back in some capacity, probably with different exact messages, and definitely at a lower volume.

      Funny enough, Pierce Transit has something like this, and it works fine. Maybe Metro should take an example from them.

      1. Except the announcement said “stand behind the yellow line”. One passenger took that literally and assumed he had to stand as opposed to sitting in an available seat.

  3. Some systems that have no common sense (I’m looking at you SF MUNI) have played a “Please Hold On” message after every door closure, for years. They also play other messages (“On crowded MUNI vehicles…”) at regular intervals.

    It is awful.

    Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.

    Metro did, overall, a great job when they implemented the OBS system, and made all the right little choices that makes their system much better than many other agencies (only calling major stops, no scrolling display inside the bus, leaving the bell chime separate from the OBS system, etc). There are a lot of agencies that have invested in this technology, made all the wrong choices about implementation, and are left with turd systems that are obnoxious and user unfriendly.

    If Metro had dug their heals in on this change last weekend, all of their positive efforts with this system would be for nothing.

  4. It’s hard to take Metro seriously when they are severely underfunded yet take the time to waste taxpayer money on a clearly terrible idea. Add this one to the loud talking buses as they turn and you wonder if maybe the leadership at Metro has become obsessed with liability in the oddest ways possible.

    1. Regarding finances, the feature for audio announcements is already part of every bus.

      Two of the three announcements were perfectly fine messages, as far as I heard, except for the repetition. I actually never got to hear the message about standing behind the yellow line, but it is a message that drivers have had available for years, and that I have heard when drivers are trying to get riders to stand behind the yellow line (which is an actual rule, and a legitimate safety issue).

    2. This is America, obsession with bizarre liability is a feature of our national culture

    3. I don’t know. With nearly 3,000,000 service hours every year spent on bus service, I don’t think that a message that sounds like it took two employees one hour over a weekend is necessarily a huge financial hit.

      1. And that is exactly the problem – cheap rather the sensitive and sensible solutions.

    4. I already saw a comment on another blog from someone saying something like “Is that how they’re wasting Prop 1 money, as people thought they would?” Even though that’s not the case, there’s the perception that they must have used part of Proposition 1 money for these announcements, then had to pull them, so there’s some Prop 1 money wasted. Especially among people who maybe didn’t get as much new service as they thought they were going to, and are now feeling like Metro used the money on these announcements instead. We know better, but not everyone does.

    5. Re liability fear: I was thinking the same thing recently when I noticed a big warning sign on a small foldable stroller: “Please remove child before folding stroller.”

    6. Danger: These blog comments may contain references to substances known to cause cancer to people living in California.

      1. Which are generally placed on beautiful and graceful historic buildings. Like the one in Sacramento on the way from the train station to a great morning cafe.

        Everybody’s got their own taste in architecture. But meantime, I think most new architecture should carry warnings that just looking at the building will definitely trigger fatal malignancy in the aesthetic areas of the brain.

        Foreshadowed by instant headaches and nausea. And retinal damage from the blinding California sun several thousand square feet of glass delivers to helpless pedestrians and motorists.

        Emblem should be a skull wearing shades and a respirator.


  5. The insensitivity here is along the same lines as:
    -The Pierce Transit driver this morning telling me I can just walk, when my Orca card – which has a $50 balance on it – didn’t work.
    -The Pierce Transit phone operator who told me to take a bus to the Tacoma Dome to get a new Orca card after I had explicitly explained to her that one of their drivers told me to walk since my card didn’t work.
    -The King County Metro service offices not being open during peak commute hours when it is critical for commuters to get answers to questions.

    1. King County Metro is telling me that my Orca Card is defective. I can get a replacement card today, but can’t get the e-purse transferred for another week. WTF?!?! I need to get from Seattle to Auburn TONIGHT. Moreover, they are telling me that if I want my balance returned to me, I need to wait an entire month AND pay a $10 service fee. You guys can’t have it both ways. You don’t get to keep my money and then not let me use it for your services. Perhaps I need to call a County Councilmember.

      1. The e-Purse wait time is ridiculous. Being a former customer service rep, i dreaded when I had to break the unfortunate news to ePurse riders, yet monthly passes are replaced immediately. The reason for the wait is to ensure the card’s final balance when registered with the main ORCA system. Though the card maintains a accurate balance, the system does nit until the end of the day. So they give a week’s wait. It’s an ineffective eay to prevent fraud. It’s ridiculous. The ePurse can easily be replaced right there and then.

      2. Ugh, this reminds me of the time in 2011 when my Orca card broke while I was riding Link from the airport to my home. I got written up by the transit police. I guess the RFID chip failed. These Orca cards only have a life expectancy of 2-3 years, as I understand. I had to go through the same hassles to get my card replaced and the funds transferred. I am still mad 4 years later that I was facing a ticket if my Orca card failed again within a year, when the Orca cards themselves are fragile and basically short-lived. Arghhh.

      3. One would think the fare enforcement officers could look up the unique number on the card, and see what the system says about the card’s balance or passes, and history. The current fare enforcement policies that result in wrongful warnings, occasionally wrongful citations, and making people afraid to ride the train are another topic for another day.

      4. The replacement fee has gone up to $10? It used to be $5, which was already outrageous. I’ve been wondering when hundreds of thousands of cards would stop working and have to be replaced. Passengers can’t tell when it will die, so it’s not like we can proactively replace it, or prevent it from dying in the middle of a trip. And charging $5 (now $10?) because the card is defective or reached its end of life is inexcusable. But my card, which I got early in the ORCA transition, is still working.

      5. The thing is, they act like it’s an extraordinary privilege to allow us to use ORCA cards, and therefore we should pay fees and wait because we insist on using them. But it’s the transit agencies that want us to use them and asked us to use them to save the agencies money and time. So the agencies should be doing everything they can to make it convenient and inexpensive for us to use the cards, not the other way around.

      6. “ORCA gets you moving.” is one more of those messages that needs to be pulled. It may only irritate a few of us transit geeks, but it makes it look like the agencies don’t understand the point of the ORCA program. How about, “ORCA makes everyone’s trip faster.”

        But given the choice, I’ll take getting rid of the card fee, and reducing the replacement fee to something more reasonable. That card fee and the continued existence of paper transfers sends a message much louder than words, and one that is wasting gobs of taxpayer money.

      7. @Mike Orr, $10 is NOT the fee to replace an ORCA card. It is the processing fee to have an e-purse balance refunded.

      8. But that’s the same thing, isn’t it? If the card is replaced I need my balance transferred to the new card.

      9. Replacement cards intended to replace your old card cost $5 but must be ordered through customer service. You cannot purchase the new card at a tvm. It takes additional work to transfer the money hence the 10 dollar fee.

      10. Your first move, Engineer, is to become a regular public commenter at Sound Transit board meetings. Representatives of all three counties in ST, and mayors of several cities, including county seats, all sit on the board.

        I don’t know how much time you have, but with the various online embarrassment tools, the ORCA problems could go the way of the announcements, for the same reason.

        During my time driving for Metro, we were authorized at most to politely ask once for the fare.
        Any unpleasantness would likely result in a gross misconduct charge at the least.

        I don’t know for sure about Pierce Transit, but I’d bet Metro’s “Book” still forbids fare disputes. Though I’m told a depressing number of drivers still waste union time and money getting themselves fired for getting into them.

        If a driver suspects fare evasion, his duty is to write an incident report at the end of his shift. We got a half hour’s pay for a three minute report.

        This is certainly not condoning evasion. If enough reports convince the company that an ongoing situation is worth the trouble, it’s welcome to have the police post plain clothes officers to deal with it.

        I don’t know the whole situation you were in. But I probably would have politely stated that when I last checked, my card was good and the system’s own records will prove it. And taken a seat.

        Or, since this was likely one driver’s misconduct, just taken the next bus if time permitted. While immediately phoning in my complaint ASAP.

        Being ready to give the company the number of the bus, the location, the time, and a fair description of the driver.

        Nowadays there’s an excellent chance that the incident will already have given the company a sound video worthy of YouTube. Mention that fact in your verbal complaint. Which will be recorded.

        And also put in your letter to your representatives, and your comments to the Sound Transit Board.

        Mark Dublin

      11. It sounds like ATMs that charge $2.50 per transaction. Or health savings accounts that charge $10 a month maintenance fee. A lot of money for doing hardly anything.

      12. Failure to offer the service of transferring remaining balance to a new card means more slow-downs for the buses that passenger will be riding when he switches back to paying with cash. Pound foolish, just like the card fee.

      13. Absolutely ridiculous. Do everything Mark Dublin told you to do.

        Also, it’s pretty clear Pierce Transit wants you to pay with cash. I suggest you stick with cash once you empty the existing card.

    2. Incidentally, Engineer, a few minutes ago I called Pierce Transit information. Confirmed: rules say driver should have let you ride.

      Fact you had card in your hand should have removed any possible justification for saying anything but “Good morning.”

      Also, any further problem, immediately note date, time, location, route number, and coach number. And call or e-mail immediately.

      Again from personal experience as both transit driver and passenger: the better your manners and the quieter your voice, the better your position in all ways.

      Whatever the provocation…”Please. Thank you. Sir, or Ma’am.” Looks good on bus camera video, too. Also especially important while driving a standing load the Route 7 on a weekend night.


  6. Seriously, who thinks any announcements are a good idea?

    Most announcements are useless. Subway drivers mumble out incomprehensible next stop information with a healthy dose of static. Airports are wastelands of audio pollution. Even on airplanes, half the time I can’t hear what the pilot is saying.

    The worst for me was on the MARC commuter trains in Maryland. Conductors announced every stop 3-4 times as if every passenger had amnesia. Something like “Next stop New Carrolton in 5 minutes. New Carrolton is next. Please take all your belongings with you and watch your step as you exit the train. Next stop New Carrolton.” Followed by the exact same announcement 2-3 more times in the next few minutes. Almost makes you wish you’d driven instead.

    1. Some announcements are actually OK, if repeated not too often but at a high volume: “Please move to rear of bus” when standing. I have seen it work 99% of the time.

    2. Announcements are also good when anything unexpected is happening. Like detours or tunnel closures or whatnot. I think Metro (and Sound Transit) needs to prioritize what information they need to get to their riders.

      I also like the idea of including transfers on the audio announcement. But would it be too complicated to take into account what day and time it is? I could see it being frustrating if you’re on the 71 crossing 25th Ave NE and the announcment says “transfer here for the 68 to Northgate or UW, and the 372 to Woodinville or UW” but it’s a Sunday so there’s no service at all along 25th Ave NE.

      Why is the sound quality so different between the prerecorded announcements (either the automatic “next stop X” or the driver controlled “please exit through the rear”) and when the driver says something? The former is loud enough to hear and is clear. The latter is quiet and usually badly garbled.

  7. The train at the airport has similar messages. The doors are closing, please hold onto a hand rail. Nobody goes more than two stops on those so unless you actually work at the airport they are more amusing than irritating. And then repeat in two languages (nobody tell Metro about this).

    Somebody on here was complaining about the LED signs on the buses saying something like “Next Stop: Westlake Center Station”, and scrolling so a useless part of the message was often visible, when they could just say “Westlake”. I think they same applies for verbal announcements. A simple “Next Stop: Westlake” would be sufficient. Everything else is just distracting from what passengers need to know.

    And something like a notice about surveillance could happen hourly if it has to happen at all.

    1. The airport subways actually have decent acceleration that can catch even seasoned riders off guard, let alone an elderly tourist, so the “please hold onto a hand rail” has merit.

      1. is it just me or is the airport run for Link running a bit too fast? They have really started to shudder and shake around on the curves over I-5 before TIBS

      2. That’s been the case since opening, Charles. AFAIK, it hasn’t gotten any worse recently.

    2. People are only on the subway for two minutes. The message is much shorter and more concise. And it’s more informational, and not threatening. And you get exposure to other languages.

  8. Thanks for re-writing this article – the version that appeared in Feedly felt insensitive (if not racist) in its own right. I know that wasn’t the intent, so thanks for revising it.

    1. I appreciate your feedback. To be honest, the final version of the article actually downplays how uncomfortable the repeated surveillance announcement made some riders feel, as if they were not even welcome on the bus. Some may find it comical, but for that guy who was the only other rider in the bus, I understand why he went up and had terse words with the driver. Maybe you had to be there, but the appearance was that the announcement had crossed the line into being an attempt to humiliate that rider. The poor driver had no way to turn off the message. I feel very sorry for both the driver and rider who got put through that experience.

      1. Is there a way announcements can be ‘customized’ when the driver deems it necessary, such as the “Please move back” when the bus gets crowded and people are standing. And some sort of shrieking loud ding string noise passengers can activate when drivers forgets to open the back door. Useful stuff.

  9. First questions that come to mind are: Whose idea was it to do those messages, and what did we pay them? Because before they cash their next paycheck, they owe us any of a thousand improvements in real passenger information.

    But I used to have a favorite sci-fi author named Ron Goulart, who set his stories either in the Southern California of the near future, or in a planetary system exactly like California.

    Often featuring neurotic mechanisms like robot police cars that start to think everybody it met was the same wanted murderer and executing them.

    And cyborg dogs named “Prez”, after Lester Young, programmed to be classical jazz experts. Who end up murdering somebody with mail order rabies. Giveaway is a postage stamp stuck on his ear.

    So it finally hit me why I’ve recently started yelling at crossing buttons to shut up. Found that George Orwell forgot to reveal real inspiration for 1984: a WWII British experiment swiftly terminated by fact that the Crown would have to find LP records that could leave out “h”, and make “th” a “v”.

    Though I think we’re now missing a serious educational opportunity: system should show the message in English, and then show and verbally repeat it, but in a lot more languages. One lesson per message.

    Could save the lives of STB-oriented visitors in places where fare inspectors don’t like to translate.

    Meantime: “‘Ullo, ‘ullo, ‘ ullo wot ‘ave we ‘ere? Blighters like you are a serious bovver to clean off the bonnets of people’s
    Aston Martins!” And also: “Nu, what’s with these meshuginner messages lately? So you want I should like Moses post with a chisel?”

    Mark Dublin

    1. Whoever designed – and approved- these messages should also be required to ride the bus for an hour first and listen to them.

      1. I thought the same thing, like didn’t anybody who was working on this project actually do a test for at least one run of a high frequency stop route?

    2. I assume the “Hold on” message came from the bus manufacturer, since it was the only one in multiple languages. Although there may be two Hold on messages, because I thought I heard one that said “handrail” but the later times it didn’t.

      Also, a colleague of mine thought the surveillance message said it did audio recording as well as video. I didn’t hear that. I’m not sure if there were two surveillance messages or if he misinterpreted it. I’ve never heard of audio recording in CCTV cameras. Does it do it?

      1. Yes, the security cameras have audio recording. There is a microphone near the front of the bus on units equipped with cameras. Usually hangs below the windshield.

  10. If they can’t be bothered to announce transfers, “hold on” is really unimportant.

    1. Announcing what you can transfer to at this stop should be given highest priority.

    2. And the Chicago CTA buses always tell which El lines you can transfer to, both visually and audially. Metro’s signs show the nearest minor street. Sometimes the audio announcement tells the Link station, sometimes not. The most notorious one I’ve seen is the northbound A at SeaTac station, where the sign just says “S 176th Street”.

      It also irks me that the signs say “Harvard Avenue”, “Benton Lane”. “Belmont Avenue” when it’s also the stop for a major street or destination that people are looking for; i.e., Broadway, the HUB, a Link station, or Summit Avenue. It’s like it’s based strictly on GPS coordinates rather than the neighborhoods that people are going to.

    3. It should be easier to keep updated now than it was years ago but …

      At one point SF MUNI had their system announcing transfers. After they went through a service change, the announcements were not updated, and they continued to announcer transfers to routes that didn’t exist.

      For a long time.

      Now I know MUNI is the pinnacle of governmental dysfunction, but some times keeping it simpler is the way to go.

    4. I do like the way TriMet has managed to get transfer announcements. There are lots of other things they do that irritate me to no end, but the transfer announcements were done right.

      Eg: SE Steele and 39th / Cesar Chavez: Before 8:15 pm the 75 announces this as “Transfer to Line 10” but after that time, when the 10 fold up for the evening, the transfer isn’t announced.

      At major transit points, it won’t go through all the routes. “Milwaukie Transit Center, transfer to other bus lines.”

      It took a while to get there though. For a while the announcement system would give stops at random locations around the city, some of which didn’t even exist any more. They got that solved some years back.

  11. Audio announcements should be used for special situations only, never over and again during routine operation. Routine communications should be made simply by posting signs.

    Even the next stop announcements are overdone. It is not necessary to call out every single destination in the u-district when approaching Mountlake freeway station, and Evergreen Point station does not get enough use to justify an audio announcement at all. There is already a sign that announces every coming stop. For blind people, someone can make a GPS-driven phone app that will vibrate when it’s time to pull the chord for the next stop.

    1. Some buses have audio announcements only at major stop. And a smartphone should not be a required posession for blind people.

    2. If stop announcements are truly essential for blind people, how do they ever get off the bus at a non-major stop? Do you up the obnoxiousness for everybody else and announce every single stop?

      Even without stop announcements, there are plenty of ways a blind person can know when to get off that don’t involve a smartphone. The simplest is to simply tell the driver or another passenger where you want to get off, and ask him/her to tell you when the bus is getting close. For a blind person making the request, this is a basic courtesy that no ordinary person would object to.

      I’m not opposed to audible stop announcements at truly major stops (e.g. a stop where nearly half the bus typically gets off), but the bar for such announcements should be high, and the frequency of such, rare.

    3. The blind people I’ve seen ride the bus generally sat right in front and told the driver which stop they wanted.

      1. Announcing stops is helpful for tourists and for people who are not familiar with the area. Most agencies that announce stops announce all stops. If the stops are close together, you can group them – 7th and B followed by 7th and C then 7th and D. If it’s announcing a stop every block, maybe the bus shouldn’t stop every block.

      1. For instance:

        1. Priority to accurate-to-the-minute messages that enable passengers to make critical decisions in the face of suddenly changed conditions.

        2. Current train headways.

        3. For as long as needed: bus arrival announcements, like the LINK ones except with route numbers and bay letters.

        Also terminating points for inbounds- so passengers don’t overload outbound service. “Passengers for Tunnel Only Please Board” suggestion might help.

        4. Which should be in front of Number 1: Repurpose and train vast majority of security guards into passenger assisting station agents.

        Whose chief purpose is to give passengers the information that cripples service if drivers have to do it. And also intensively trained to efficiently help load wheelchairs.

        My bet is that Day One of this fall’s shortened headways will rapidly make above paragraphs start to happen.

        Based on years of Route 7 experience, I really think that a smooth, confidently moving, and well-informed system is transit’s best real security against every kind of violence.

        In nature, for their own survival, predators gravitate to animals visibly lame or confused. “Prey” is a misleading judgment made in retrospect. A moving herd of healthy zebras can easily kill a lioness.

        And speaking of brevity and efficiently delivered information:
        Am I the only one getting these “You’re posting too fast” messages? Me too fast? Somebody’s got the wrong address.

        Mark Dublin

      2. I love #3. I don’t know why Metro doesn’t do it already. They have those sort of signs at RapidRide stops and it would be so much more helpful than telling me a train is arriving in 2 minutes.

        I live in Ravenna, so from downtown I could either take the 71, or the 74/76 (rush hour only), or the 72/73 and transfer at UW to the 65/68/372. Lots of options, some better than others.

        So let’s say I’m at Westlake station and there’s a huge group of people waiting. A 72 rolls up. Do I fight my way on it to guarantee myself a seat, but then have to transfer at UW? Or do I stay in the hope that there’s a better bus coming soon? If I take the 72, it might get passed by a 71 along Eastlake Ave because it’s crowded and taking longer to deboard at each stop. Or maybe there was a 76 right 2 minutes behind the 72 which would have gotten me home faster, but skips UW so I can’t transfer to it. But if I wait, maybe the 71 isn’t coming for another 25 minutes whereas had I gotten on the 72, I could have already transferred at UW.

        I know that’s a long paragraph, but that’s the decision I have to make every time I’m in the tunnel and the “wrong” bus pulls up. And there’s no way for me to get outside information to help make my decision – it’s entirely based on what my gut tells me to do. But at least I know if there’s a train coming in 2 minutes.

  12. Imagine you’re a Route 5 rider from Shoreline CC to 3rd/Pike. You make the trip 5 days per week, year round. 53 stops each way, or 104 opportunities to hear the doors close. At the end of the year, this rider would have heard those same 3 messages a total of 27,040 times. In no possible world does this respect a rider’s right to a decent transit experience.

    Unless this was a passive-aggressive way to increase support for stop consolidation :), this was ill-conceived by people who clearly don’t ride the bus enough to know how annoying passengers were going to find it.

  13. Those announcements were like auditory carpet bombing. I couldn’t figure out why they were so much louder than the station/stop name announcements, since those are usually clear – plus the stop verbalization is much more calming (and synthetically neutral) than the voices they used. One of the guys in the messages sounded like he didn’t even have a PNW accent – almost seemed Midwestern. Anyway, I’m glad that mini nightmare is over.

    Funny, at my first boarding with the “surveillance” message, I was wondering if I was somehow looking particularly squirrely or something…it’s like those portraits where the eyes always seem to be looking at you, only these messages seemed aimed at the person who just boarded.

    1. The loudness was probably just the initial fine-tuning. But it was loud enough to distort a bit in some speakers.

    2. The volume was probably set by some annoyed shop employee that wanted the whole thing to be cancelled as a bad idea.

  14. On the other hand, I would welcome an hourly “please exit through the rear doors” announcement.

    1. …only if the rear doors didn’t dump you into a bunch of bushes. This is still the case at many stops along the 66 through Maple Leaf and U-District.

    2. Exiting through rear door(s) makes much sense except on the articulated buses with only one rear door that is way way in back. Having all passengers do so on these buses would slow down the exit prosess significantly. I am a senior usually sitting in front and would not enjoy hobbling my way to the rear door on these buses.

      1. People who need to sit in the front because of mobility issues should always be welcome to exit through the front.

        What annoys me is when a driver holds their hand out to stop me getting in because someone sitting near the middle of the bus decided they would rather get out the front door than the back. In that case the driver should be officially encouraged to let me on, open the rear door, and play the “please exit through the rear” announcement. If the exiting rider insists on squeezing past boarding riders to exit through the front, so be it, but they need to know that they’re doing the wrong thing.

  15. Sounder SB occasionally plays messages I’ve not heard before which are not part of the regular safety announcements and next stop .. don’t bump your head on the overhead rack .. *watches someone bump their head again*

    One that made me and a few others chuckle the other day as we rolled into Puyallup was something along the lines of “Please wear shoes and shirts at all times”

    1. Would be great to have a cell-phone app that would let passengers transmit their own answers to these announcements.

      PA: “Please do not lie down on the seats.”
      APP: “Wasn’t sleepy ’til you reminded me. G’night!”

      PA: “Please watch your head on the luggage racks.”
      APP: “Please pad the damn things before my attorney’s Lightning Lawsuit app kicks in.”

      PA: “Please report suspicious behavior.”
      APP: “In the United States of America, doesn’t years of tolerance for baseless induced unfocused fear raise some suspicions?”

      Probably applies less here, but around SF Bay area…suspicious behavior line probably blew the key off the telegraph first operating day of the cable cars. Or at least the last operating day of the Key Line.


  16. Yet more proof that the people who run metro actually don’t ride the bus, or *really* think transit is a priority except insofar that the funding lets them keep their job. Seattle is going to turn into yet another West coast car disaster if it does not change its attitude right quick.

  17. If the decision-makers at King County Metro were regular bus riders, this mistake would not have happened.

    1. Seems to me some other property got a council mandate that all transit officials ride their system a certain number of times per month.

      For transit here, a voter initiative to force this to happen could turn in its signature list by noon of the first day.

      Especially if new law makes its subjects wear signs like the streetcar fare inspectors have on their jackets in Gothenburg:

      “Got a question? ASK ME!”


  18. I rode RR E on Saturday for this barrage. It didn’t say you’d be prosecuted Brent, just that they would be reviewed and noted. I took that with a grain of salt. After all, they didn’t have a hint of fare enforcement either way. And, inbound there was a heated argument in the back, yet nobody got tossed from the bus. The volume of the surveillance announcement was at least 1.5x the others, which were a tad above ordinary. The former announcements were beyond annoying, they were disruptive.

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