Greater Greater Washington

Roads


Bus drivers launch real-time texting traffic service

This article was posted as an April Fool's joke.

WMATA is launching a new real-time, eyes-off-the-road, traffic texting service today.

Metro's recent budget woes have led the agency to pursue both cost-cutting and revenue-enhancing measures. It has also given the agency impetus to look at its strategic assets in new ways.

The agency identified its bus fleet as a potential source of new revenues. Metro buses blanket the area, particularly during rush hours, and can provide real-time eyes to traffic situations.

Through a sophisticated texting system, Metrobus operators will respond personally to specific requests for traffic information in their vicinity. This allows commuters to make decisions about what route to take, when to plan their trip, or whether to even bother getting out of bed.

Reactions to the new system from riders have been almost universally positive. Jake Danvers, who rides the 32 bus on Wisconsin Avenue said, "It works great for me. My driver is telling all those car commuters to go some other way, and that clears the road for us. My ride is a good 2-3 minutes faster now. Also, it's more exciting. Yesterday, for example, we sideswiped a BMW and knocked over a newsstand. Since our driver didn't notice, it didn't cost me any time on my commute. Also, I've noticed cars and pedestrians really stay out of the way of the careening bus, so there's more room for us to barrel down the road."

Prince William resident and long distance commuter Doris Morris also gushed, "Not only do I get right up-to-date information, the bus drivers' text notes are often entertaining." Metrobus has encouraged drivers to inject some personality into their texts as a way of personalizing the service.

Metrobus 5A driver Vinny Soros is known for his salty language, with some texts like these:

No f*&^@in' way ur gonna b on time! LOL
That's a s*@$tload of taillights up there!
In contrast, Doreen Phillips, who drives the S2, likes to make biblical references:
Pslm 37 - Be still in the presence of the Lord...on 14th Street southbound at Park
Colssns 3:8 But now u must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, n filthy language from ur lips, which will be hard since traffic on K is f-d up.
Anyone can use the service without registration. Individual texts are $.50 not including costs from your service provider. Daily users, though, can register for unlimited service for only $19.95 per month. Visit www.metroopensdoors.com/OMG.
Steve Offutt has been working at the confluence of business and environment for almost 20 years, with experience in climate change solutions, green building, business-government partnerships, transportation demand management, and more. He lives in Arlington with his wife and two children and is a cyclist, pedestrian, transit rider and driver. 

Comments

Add a comment »

:-) I was wondering what you guys would come up with.

by Adam L on Apr 1, 2010 9:18 am • linkreport

cool! I'm totally signing up for this!

by T. Aloisi on Apr 1, 2010 9:31 am • linkreport

Good one.

by Maria on Apr 1, 2010 9:56 am • linkreport

:-)Amnesty International has volunteered to represent fired bus drivers.

by Interested on Apr 1, 2010 10:59 am • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or

Support Us

How can our region be greater?

DC Maryland Virginia Arlington Alexandria Montgomery Prince George's Fairfax Charles Prince William Loudoun Howard Anne Arundel Frederick Tysons Corner Baltimore Falls Church Fairfax City
CC BY-NC