Transportation headlines, Thursday, January 15

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Today’s rider profile at the Zocalo Public Square website.

Metro updating fare vending machines, Sheriff fare check devices and app (Streetsblog LA) 

A trial run of new easier-to-follow screen prompts on Metro ticket machines is scheduled to debut at Union Station later this month, according to Metro TAP staff. In addition, Metro is in the early stages of developing a smart phone app that will allow riders to add value to their TAP cards.

No, the new ticket machine screens won’t include my reflection as a permanent feature. I know. Disappointing 🙂

Traffic spikes on protected bike lanes (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Shocker: looks like double the number of cyclists are using a new protected bike lane (i.e. they’re physically separated from vehicular traffic) in Minneapolis.

Study finds local taxes hit lower wage earners harder (New York Times) 

Excerpt:

According to the study, in 2015 the poorest fifth of Americans will pay on average 10.9 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the middle fifth will pay 9.4 percent and the top 1 percent will average 5.4 percent.

Experts point to local sales, excise (i.e. taxes on gas, cigarettes, liquor, etc.) and property taxes, which have the same rate for all earners. It’s hardly the first time that sales taxes have been accused of being regressive — and probably not the last. Still, that remains a challenge for transit agencies across the country (including Metro), which have heavily relied on sales taxes to help fund new projects.

Rail derailed for bus rapid transit (Miami Herald) 

Speaking of sales taxes….Instead of building new light rail lines with money from a 2002 sales tax hike, Miami-Dade County planners are considering less expensive bus rapid transit in several corridors. Not everyone is thrilled, but the BRT is seen as a way to build new transit more quickly and at considerably less cost.

6 replies

  1. Sorry to sound like a repetitive old grump, but Why can’t Metro put ‘mock ups’ of the new TVM user interface on their website earlier and get some quicker, more articulate feedback? This process could even work for improving TAPToGo. Putting something new in front of the Technologically Illiterate majority of LA county without warning might be a disaster – good luck!

    • Hi Mike;

      I believe there was already some focus group testing on the new screen prompts.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • There is good research that shows that ‘focus groups’ are not the best method for good feedback. They suffer from groupthink and self-censoring. People in focus groups are likely to follow the crowd. If you want unbiased feedback, a website that does not let the user see the thoughts of others (until maybe they are done), is better.

        If the TVM’s are using something like Java, the mock-up would be easy to put on a website.

    • “Technologically Illiterate majority of LA county”

      I doubt this statement. By far, the age group that is growing today are the Millennials who are very tech-savvy. They grew up playing video games, saw the growth of the internet, they are very much likely to own computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets that they can just jump right onto it without needing much explanation.

      But besides that, your idea is a sound one. In this day and age, something like a creating a mock-up user interface can be easily done on HTML5, Flash, or Java over the internet and get more feedback from a lot more people than select focus groups.

      If you can play old NES games via an emulator or simple Flash games over the internet, it’s not that hard to showcase a mockup online for feedback.

  2. In an era where touchscreen tablets devices can be bought for less than $300 and most ATMs nowadays are also touchscreen, why are the TAP vending machines still not touchscreen and people are forced to push the corresponding buttons to the side? Those metal buttons to the side are hard to press. I’ve seen tourists try to touch the screen and remind them that these are ancient devices that you actually have to press the buttons to the side.

    The next time, you should think of upgrading those screens to touchscreens. Touchscreen technology has gotten to a low point where children’s toys have them and are being sold at Toys ‘R Us for less than $50.

    http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=24266336

  3. Funny how you talk about lower wages and the 3 Metro bus contractors (M V, Southland and Vieola) drivers sre paid peanuts!