N.Y. MTA launches text message, email alert system

Posted on November 25, 2008

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) launched an email and text messaging system that will notify registered customers of planned and unplanned service changes at any of the MTA's family of transportation agencies.

The system is a direct response to a key recommendation in the MTA's report on the storm of Aug. 8, 2007, which raised awareness of the need for increased communication during large-scale service disruptions. The system was fully operational beginning Wednesday.

Using the MTA's website at www.mta.info, customers can register to receive alerts about any combination of subway lines, bus routes, rail lines, bridges or tunnels. They can choose to receive them 24/7, or only during a particular time of day or week. The system will use an email transmission technology called Distributed Processing, giving it the capability of sending out up to a million messages every five minutes.

"This is a revolutionary step that has the potential to transform the experience our customers have with us," said MTA Executive Director/CEO Elliot G. Sander. "If you know about a service disruption before you leave your home, or now, even as you are making your way to a subway or rail station or a bus stop, you can avoid the frustration of delays by seeking an alternate route."

This initiative builds upon years of experience that Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road have had in sending email messages notifying customers about service disruptions, and that New York City Transit has had providing weekly email updates about service changes caused by track work.

The launch of this system incorporates the functionality of those earlier initiatives, presenting them in a single online portal. It marks the first time that the MTA will send timely notifications of unplanned service disruptions on subways, buses, bridges or tunnels, and is the first MTA service to use text messaging.

This service is being provided in partnership with the MIS Sciences Corporation under a $10,000-a-month contract that includes an unlimited volume of emails and text messages.

While the MTA will not charge customers to use this service, those customers who have cell phone plans that charge for incoming text messages will be liable for those fees.

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