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
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

Movies

Review: Bickering family dramedy 'This is Where I…

A talented cast sits Shiva in the bickering family dramedy "This is Where I Leave You," although it's more sap than yuks.

Movies

Review: Desert-walking movie 'Tracks' would be better as…

Mia Wasikowska walks 1700 miles across Australia's deserts in "Tracks," in a story that defies triumph-of-the-spirit cliches but gets some of them anyway.

NFL

J.J. Watt poses unique challenges to struggling Giants…

Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is the leader of a surprising Texans (2-0) team that has already matched last season’s win total.

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…