Metro: 'Next Bus' System to Return in July
Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. started off his online discussion today with an update on the late, lamented Next Bus system, intended to provide real time information about bus arrivals.
Catoe said the system that was taken down in October 2007 for lengthy repairs should be back in July. He ordered it taken down because the information wasn't accurate enough often enough.
Recently, some bus riders discovered an online test site and began using it.
One of the DCist writers found that NextBus seemed to be working for WMATA, so I wrote about it on my blog -- a NextBus staffer then commented on the post and said it's a test version, but WMATA gave them a green light, and please use it. When Sommer from DCist asked WMATA about it, they said it wasn't ready and shut it down.
Suddenly, I'm the bad guy, because apparently I unearthed some secret and people claim WMATA had never wanted NextBus to work anyway, and used this as an excuse to shut it down (again). WMATA said it'll be awhile before the site is up. It seems like NextBus and WMATA aren't on the same page about the site, maybe you could look into that and why it's not up and running at all - it's been a few years.
Catoe addressed that. Here's part of what he said:
"The return of NextBus is highly anticipated by many bus riders, and by many who were able to gain access to an internal test site over the last few months. We have restricted access to that test site, which has disappointed a number of people. Those people who were using the system have reported in blogs that the system was working well for them, and I'm pleased to hear that.
"However, I have to take a much wider view of NextBus and the accuracy of its predictions. Launching a "beta" version may make sense for software developers, it doesn't make sense for Metro. Before NextBus is fielded again, I have to be sure that it will work well for all of our bus riders.
"If we allow access to a test site, then we are in effect launching that site and service. That means we need to be ready to give anyone and everyone using that site our full attention if they have problems and complaints. All the disclaimers in the world won't make any practical difference. If we were to allow access to the site, then, potentially, there would be hundreds of thousands trying to use something that just isn't ready for prime time, yet."
Be patient a few more months, Catoe asked. He wants to make sure the redesigned system will be accurate at least 95 percent of the time, a significant improvement over its performance as of fall 2007.
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