MBTA rolls out new and improved T-Alerts service

MBTA Public Information Officer Brian McKeon sends out notifications from the MBTA Command Center using the new T-Alerts system. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
MBTA Public Information Officer Brian McKeon sends out notifications from the MBTA Command Center using the new T-Alerts system. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is rolling out a more detailed and streamlined  T-Alerts service to keep its customers informed about service disruptions.

The improved system goes into effect Tuesday, offering the T’s 1.3 million daily riders faster access to more detailed service information.

Chief Technology Officer Gary Foster said the new system “gets right to the point.”

“This is much more granular compared to the original system. We are able to be more specific,” said Foster, adding that the changes were based on feedback from T customers.

“We’ve had a number of complaints about the existing system in terms of timeliness. Originally the data we sent out was raw. It wasn’t as clean as it is now. In the last two years we’ve made tremendous improvements in the quality of the data in general what we send to customers and to our developers. Now we’re taking it to the next level.”

T-Alerts will continue to be listed on the Service pages of the T’s website, with visual enhancements made to page layout and format for clarity, ease-of-use, and reader-friendliness.

Direct service advisory notifications via email and text messages will receive improvements with more reliable delivery times through the MBTA’s new partnership with GovDelivery, a leader in public digital communication. Service alerts and notifications will be clearer and more detailed with additional information regarding specific trip times, service schedule changes, and distinct directional, branch, and station communications.

The existing system, launched in 2007, has proved popular with roughly 65,000 current subscribers who receive an email or text message to let them know when their bus or train is running late or if there’s some other disruption to service.

Public Information Officer Brian McKeon is responsible for manning the T-Alerts desk from the MBTA’s control center on High Street, where employees work around the clock to monitor the agency’s elaborate transportation network.

“On the previous (alert) system, we wouldn’t be able to specifically list the stops that would be affected by a delay,” said McKeon, “This new (system) allows us to pick as many stops as we need to inform customers about a delay.”

However, the new T-Alerts system is built around data structures that enable sharing, encouraging  third-party development and uses emerging standards introduced by Google in 2011. The MBTA has become a data-sharing leader in 2009, rolling out real-time bus data directly for developers. Over 50 third-party apps use MBTA data, according to T officials.

Customers must sign up for the new system, as the old one is being discontinued.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox top Yankees, 5-1

John Lackey shines, Pineda ejected in Red Sox win

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."