>WMATA Lunch chat with John Catoe

>Welcome, Greater Greater Washington Readers!

WMATA has a lunchtime chat with the CEO on the first Friday of the month. I was going to submit my question about including schedule information in Google Transit, but it looks like someone else asked and here’s the response:

Washington, DC: Why is WMATA not working more closely with organizations such as Google, which provides information on several other public transit systems in the US. Specifically, did WMATA opt-out or were they unaware of the Google Transit, which provides information similar to WMATA Trip Planner. Considering Google Maps has over 5 million hits per day it might be wise for WMATA to include information on our system, so that potential visitors/tourist can plan their routes ahead of time using a familiar system, which is also available via mobile devices such as Blackberries, Treo, Windows Mobile devices etc. http://www.google.com/transit

Reply: We have been pursuing this with Google and have supplied our transit data to them for testing purposes. At this point, Google Transit’s itineraries and walking maps generated from our data are not accurate enough to release to the public.

Woo hoo, they’re working on it. Much better than last time I asked about a year ago, when someone in Metrobus operations told me their schedule data was “proprietary” and couldn’t be released in that manner, and also told me that the schedule data was in a format that wasn’t compatible with Google Transit Feed Specification.

I think at this point WMATA should have a FAQ, because there’s three or four questions that happen every chat:

1. Why don’t we run the system 24 hours a day?
A: We need to work on the tracks sometime, and that time is between 1 AM and 5 AM on weekdays, and between 3 AM and 7 AM on weekends.

2. Why doesn’t WMATA look into having express trains?
A: It’s hard to have trains pass each other with only two tracks. We tried installing jump ramps, but we couldn’t get the trains to land reliably on the other side.

3. Why don’t we have skip stop service like in Philadelphia?
A: It won’t help that much. The WMATA system design is such that people wouldn’t save that much time. Plus, do you really want tourists to be even more confused? I mean, there’s a blue AND an orange line, and now we’re going to add a blue “A” train AND a blue “B” train?

4. Why can’t we improve service on bus line “X”/the Orange Line/the Red Line?
A: We need more money; it’s Virginia’s/Sen. Coburn’s fault for blocking dedicated funding.

5. Instead of metrorail to Dulles airport, how about a Monorail/Bus Rapid Transit/Segway Lanes?
A: No.

Ok, so some of the answers above aren’t exactly how WMATA would say it. But they’re thinking it. Go ahead and post your favorite frequently asked questions that I missed above.

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About perkinsms

I'm an engineer and father interested in transit, parking and economics.
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