Last week, the metro went down. This kind of thing happened, but this system interruption seemed more serious than most. First of all, it affected more than one line. In fact, more than half the metro system was non-functional because of a power failure, which also forced some trains to stop in mid-tunnel and people to be evacuated along the tracks.
I was on online duty at the Gazette when this happened, so along with reporter Jan Ravensbergen I kept the story updated, scouring social media (particularly Twitter) for updates, pictures and testimonials. That’s how I learned about the in-tunnel evacuations. One thing I couldn’t do was just check out the STM’s website, because though the interruption knocked out dozens of stations on three lines and lasted for longer than an hour, there was nothing posted there about it.
The STM has been doing some fun things with technology, like delivering schedules by text message. But one thing it’s seriously lacking is a real-time update system about the status of the metro.
One commenter suggested using Twitter. It certainly couldn’t hurt. The delivery system isn’t too important. What matters is that when someone presses the button that creates an automated message relayed to passengers through the public-address system, that computer should also update the website, post a Twitter message, add a notice to an RSS feed, or all of the above, noting the problem.
Without this, journalists have no choice but to bug the STM’s PR people every 10 minutes to check the status of the system, and regular people have no way of knowing. That seems like an awful waste of everyone’s time.
Surely some simple solution to this problem can be found.