platform.jpgIn a case of gilding a withered lily, the MTA is improving service to New York City transit riders by more effectively informing them when routes will be obstructed, interrupted, and otherwise delayed. It's almost become a cliche that subway service becomes interrupted when the weather turns bad, or if any technological problem crops up. Now the MTA is offering to ameliorate its shortcomings by informing riders of service interruptions with text and email updates.

A plan called "Trip Service On the Go" will offer point-to-point directions for riders as well as up-to-the-minute information on changes to service when they occur. The city's woeful backwardness in this arena is well documented.

Public Address systems, via any medium, are more advanced in London, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. August's floodings and unreal delays spurred motivation for change:

"Better customer communication has been high on my priority list since I came to the MTA earlier this year," Sander said.

"The flooding on Aug. 8 made it clear that timely text and e-mail alerts are necessary, and I am confident we can find a third-party provider with the processing power to carry this out. It will no doubt be the largest such customer-service alert system in the nation."

Whether texts from the MTA regarding expected delays will prove a large or small comfort to subway riders destined to be late to work remains to be seen.

(Note to Bloomberg:, by titian at flickr)