Friday, October 19, 2012

MBTA Countdown Pilot Picking Up Steam

Courtesy: MBTA
Have you been wondering why it has been taking the MBTA so long to roll out their countdown clock system on the entire Red, Orange, and Blue lines? 

I too was frustrated that the launch has been taking so long. That was until I got a chance to talk with the MBTA's Director of Innovation, Josh Robin.

Over the past three months, the MBTA has been rolling out countdown clocks at several stations on the Red Line. As of today the MBTA has a total of six stations online: Andrew, Park Street, Downtown Crossing, South Station, Kendall/M.I.T. and Broadway.

So far the MBTA has been unveiling the technology at a new station along the line every two weeks. Josh Robin told me that the MBTA will be putting a new station online once a week for the next three weeks. So far, he says the pilot has been "essentially flawless".

"The MBTA's number one priority for this project has been quality" says Robin, "we would love to flip the switch and launch the clocks at every station in the system today, but we want to make sure it is done right and that there are no issues"

Quality is defiantly something an agency should focus on when it comes to systems like this. New York City's MTA began launching their countdown clock system back in 2007 and they were plagued by software issues. 

San Franciscos MUNI and BART as well as New Orleans RTA, and the WMATA in Washington D.C. are among the list of other transit authorities that are continuing to add updates to their countdown clock systems.

Although the pilot has just started picking up speed, Robin tells me that the T will be moving more aggressively with the project come the end of the year. Hopefully by the new year we will see the pilot start up on the Blue and Orange lines or maybe even sooner.

MBTA riders have been sharing their thoughts about the pilot on Twitter!

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