MTA hopes to have trip planner restored soon
The out-of-order trip planner on the Maryland Transit Administration web site will be back in operation soon, MTA spokeswoman Angela White says.
White said the service stopped working because of a snow-related lapse in recertifying the schedule information used to generate the trip plans. Google Transit, which provides the platform for the service, requires participating transit agencies to periodically certify that their information is correct.
White said the MTA was in the process of recertifying the data when the first of two snowstorms hit Feb. 5. She noted work at the agency was disrupted for about a week when state government was shut down and when many employees couldn't make it to work. She initally said it would be restored by late this week or early next week, but later said the service could be fixed even sooner.
The spokeswoman said she did not know why the MTA initially failed to post on its web site the fact that the trip planner was out of order. Before late Monday, when the MTA put up a notice in response to a call from Getting There, users of the service did not learn it wasn't working until they had filled out their address information.
It's a sad commentary on the state of the MTA that the first thought upon learning the system was out of order was not: How can we alert our customers? The MTA might also want to reconsider the policy of cutting it so close on deadlines that a surprise event like a snowstorm in winter can shut down a valuable service.
UPDATE: White told me the MTA initially did not post a notice on the web site that the service was down because they expected they might be able to have it restored by late Monday. In a way, that's an even sadder commentary because it means someone in its web operation figured it was OK to mislead and inconvenience a few customers for a little while rather than write a few lines of code. Here's hoping the new administrator, Ralign Wells, sets a fire under whoever takes such a nonchalant view of treating even one customer that way.
By the way, even with the notice that's been added, it is still easy for a user of the web site to miss it and simply click on the trip planner -- leading to an exercise in futility. Why not have the button for the trip planner direct people to the notice? Somebody at MTA isn't thinking like a customer using the system. (UPDATE: This problem, though not the trip planner itself, has been fixed as of Tuesday morning.)