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May 1, 2009

Metro Transit debuts new tools to keep you in the loop

Improved website, alerts help customers keep tabs on service

King County Councilmember Dow Constantine.
King County Councilmember Dow Constantine opens the briefing talking about the benefits of the new web tools.
A new online look and two new notification tools unveiled today by King County Metro will help customers stay in touch with the latest transit news and disruptions.

A more user-friendly Metro Online home page, a new “KCMetro-Alert” email subscription service and a pilot project called, “Eye on Your Metro Commute” are all designed to keep customers informed of incidents that could cause delays in bus service. These products are part of a series of improvements Metro has committed to delivering following one of the worst winter storm seasons in recent memory. These new services will not provide continuous real-time bus information about every route, but they will alert riders of disruptions that may impact bus service during morning and afternoon commutes.

“During this winter’s storms, I received many emails and calls from Metro riders who were frustrated because they were unable to find out when and where buses were running,” Metropolitan King County Council Chair Dow Constantine said.  “I spoke out immediately, calling on Metro to use universally available web technology to notify customers of disruptions to regular bus service. I’m pleased that Metro has taken these initial steps to improve communications with bus riders, and I plan to continue working with the agency on these issues in the future.”

Wondering how severe weather, multiple downtown Seattle sporting events or a major traffic construction could affect Metro bus service? Then subscribe to KCMetro-Alerts, an online email subscription service that provides general information about major disruptions.  When you sign up, news is sent to any email address you specify.  You can also view the new transit alert feature by clicking on the “Alerts” quick link on the Metro Online home page.

Just as traffic reporters alert motorists of spot problems on roadways, Metro’s own “transit reporters” are launching another online product, “Eye on Your Metro Commute.”  As part of the pilot project, they will monitor information coming into Metro’s Transit Control Center during daily morning and afternoon commutes and will share what they are hearing. Our reporters will be looking for spot problems that could delay or disrupt bus service. Those delays could be caused by a major accident, road closure, or significant transit operational issue. Updates will then be posted on Metro Online’s home page. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed to receive the updates on your PC or small-screen mobile device.

Metro GM Kevin Desmond.
Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond explains Metro's new web tools.
“Eye on Your Metro Commute” will operate Monday through Friday from 6 a.m.- 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.-7 p.m. The pilot will run through the end of 2009 and may be extended following an evaluation of the service.

Redesign of the Metro Online website is a work in progress, but the first phase unveiled today should make information people use most often easier to find. Visitors will now see simpler web design and navigation – and it will be easy to search frequently accessed items such as bus schedules and the ever-popular Trip Planner.  Plus, Metro Online now has more space to call attention to news that transit riders need to know.

“These improvements and new services are part of Metro’s ongoing commitment to improve communication with customers on many fronts,” Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond said.  “Products and services, such as Trip Planner, Metro’s Customer Information phone line and the region’s new ORCA fare card are all intended to make riding Metro as easy and convenient as possible.” 

As the services are rolled out, Metro will invite feedback from customers in an effort to further refine these tools.   For more information about these new products, go to

King County Metro Transit is among the 10 largest bus systems in the nation. Metro buses provide more than 118 million passenger trips a year, and the agency operates some of the largest commuter vanpool and park-and-ride programs in the country. It is also recognized as a leader in reducing pollution with its use of clean-burning fuels, electric trolleys, and hybrid buses. Metro customers consistently give the agency high marks for friendly, on-time service.

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