6 Minutes of Hell: King County Metro’s “Rider Information System”
In these heady days of smartphones and OneBusAway, there isn’t really much of a purpose for call-in bus schedule information. Most of the time, a combination of printed and online timetables is sufficient. But occasionally some people might still need to call.
King County Metro has an antiquated call-in system with recorded schedule information. It is tedious to navigate, is not updated regularly, and is often wildly inaccurate. This audio clip (warning: only for masochists) is 6 minutes of hell: my unsuccessful attempt to call in and get schedule times for a very simple trip between Renton Transit Center and Renton Highlands.
I first tried bus #105, but upon selecting my bus stop (the first one they offered me!) I was told that my selection was ‘invalid’. So I tried the next one they offered me, and they proceeded to give me times for buses 143, 148, and 240, but NOT #105. So I tried another bus, #909, which I knew would bring me within two blocks of where I wanted to arrive. The same bus stop that was invalid before was now magically valid, yet then they proceeded to give me information for bus #921, a route from Bellevue to Factoria.
My point is simple. To all those who maintain these systems at King County Metro: if you’re not going to update the system, and if you don’t care about accuracy, please just shut it down. Perhaps there are legitimate excuses for not providing sufficient information, but there is absolutely NO excuse for misleading or inaccurate information.