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
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.