I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the MTA’s Web site.
On the one hand, it’s a great resource for many things MTA. They’ve got press releases, maps, schedules and construction information up the wazoo. But on the other hand, there’s no rhyme or reason to the structure, and vital parts go without updates for months or years in certain cases. It also had this inconvenient tendency to crash under the load of heavy traffic.
While the MTA has quietly improved the site’s reliability and performance over the last few months, one aspect of the site — the Trip Planner — has seen numerous upgrades and an increased level of popularity. Yesterday, the MTA’s efforts paid off when the Center for Digital Government handed out its Best of New York Awards. The Trip Planner took home the gold for “Project Best Advancing Service to the Public.”
The MTA was deservedly proud of this award. “We believe Trip Planner is by far the most accurate travel itinerary provider there is for New York City,” Paul Fleuranges, NYC Transit vice president for corporate communications, said. “This award from the Center for Digital Government is proof that we are providing our customers with quality digital customer service.”
As Trip Planner has improved, traffic has increased correspondingly. According to the MTA, in February, an average weekday saw 6912 trips planned while an average weekend saw 5512 trips planned. Those figures represent a 272 percent and a 287 percent increase, respectively, over the usage numbers from February 2007.
For the next year, the MTA plans to add a station locator, places of interest and address finder features to the application. If I were running it, I’d also look at a way to add staircase location to the directions too. Some of the system’s larger and busier stations have multiple entrances, and it’s handy to know which exit will put you closer to your destination.
Meanwhile, as the MTA deserves some recognition for its Web site, I am eagerly looking ahead to a planned overhaul of the MTA’s site. MTA.info 2.0 will be a welcome addition to the online subway resources.