Thursday, September 14, 2006

Four Ideas to Improve MetroLink

Here are four ideas for immediately improving MetroLink.

Vending Machines -
Much busier systems co-exist with vending machines and kiyosks. They make the platforms a more pleasant experience. MetroLink should adopt them.

Timers -
The trains run on a schedule; so a timer could countdown until the next train arrives. Instead, I stand and wait for the hissing sound - romatic, but not sufficient.

SmartCards Not Tickets -
Smart Cards are a better alternative. It will eliminate the need for ticket controllers, and will increase convience of boarding. Legacy system could be used for first time or one time riders.

Security Oriented Infrastructure -
Whelan security gaurds, even the armed ones, are hamstrung by the lack of high visibility, security conscious design. Without such visibility, crime can go undetected. Security features, especially overlayed on existing design, cost money; but feelings of insecurity means transit riders lost. Worse is when security paid for is less effective because of insecure design.

These are not novel ideas from an utopian future; this is how good systems are run. If St. Louis and Metro will stop seeing MetroLink as "buses on tracks" we CAN have a first rate system that everyone wants to use.

Share your ideas about what MetroLink is doing! Leave a comment!


At 7:32 PM, September 17, 2006, Blogger Hans Gerwitz said...

How about a full usability analysis? The maps are very poorly done: they're ugly, the difference between paid and free parking is impossible to discern without close inspection, the "direct service" manner of indicating lines is technically correct but a poor substitute for the simple color-coding every other city uses, and they don't indicate which side the platform is on each station, which is simply done.

Beyond maps, timers are a must-have, and the vending machines (and the whole validation system) are a usability nightmare.

At 9:35 PM, September 17, 2006, Blogger cwe63108 said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Color coding and directional indicators make too much sense.

The lack of these "details" seem to indicate an overall lack of seriousness about the MetroLink system. At what level that is, I dont know; maybe at all levels?

At 2:37 AM, September 22, 2006, Blogger Todd Plesko said...

You may not aware of the history on color coding. Originally the Lambert-Shiloh line was to be the Red Line. The Shrewsbury line was to be the Green Line.

At the 11th hour of the project, St. Clair County Transit asked Metro to change the scheduling pattern to connect Shrewsbury with Shiloh.

Metro staff believed this would be a very bad decision based upon the number of passengers currently riding direct from stations east of Emerson to the airport.

The Metro board decided to support the staff position and re-evaluate the usage patterns after several years of operation.

The cost of signage alone, which is delayed specifically due to this change away from the Red Line-Green line, is huge. When the signage is complete (and they just started on it), the platform direction signage will be installed.

I would anticipate that we will eventually define the lines by color when the final decision is made.

At 6:11 PM, September 22, 2006, Blogger cwe63108 said...

Thank you Todd for that insight!

At 7:38 AM, September 28, 2006, Blogger Herbie said...

Atlanta started planning to use "smart" cards back in 1996, didn't find a technology they liked until around 2001, and may finally see full scale implementation in 2007. The PRICE for their "smart" cards? How about the low, low price of $200 million!


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