Go Metro mobile app update and a few tips

A round-up of notes on Metro's mobile app – Go Metro Los Angeles. What? You didn't know Metro had a mobile app, go get it — it's FREE!

iPhone software update screen

iPhone software update screen

1. A new version is available for download for iPhones, iPads and Androids. If you already have the app, you should have received an update notice on your respective devices. Customers pointed out the last update had a strange error of displaying arrival times out of order. Metro mobile developers tracked down the bug and quickly fixed it — however, submitting changes to the App Store and waiting for approval is another story. We appreciate all the feedback coming in via the app, emails, Twitter and Facebook.

2. Metro's mobile app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times by mobile users. Last checked — just over 55,000+ downloads for Android devices and 57,000+ downloads for iPhone devices. If you currently have the app, I'd love to hear from you — what do you like and hate about the app? What would you like to see in the future?

3. There are no current plans to build a Windows or Blackberry version. Sorry Windows and BB users — this is not out of preference, but rather budget and resources. Our online metrics indicate both Windows and BB customers make up less than three percent of online usage. BTW: as of last month (Dec 2012), over 50 percent of all web traffic visiting metro.net is coming from a mobile device — almost equally split between Android and iOS.

Fret not, there are alternatives for Windows and Blackberry users — have you tried Metro's mobile website, m.metro.net?

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iPhone app connects citizens to government

Culver City recently released an iPhone application that lets residents report city issues – potholes, graffiti, noise – directly to City officials. Users can simply snap a photo of the issue, choose which category it fits in, GPS location data is automatically included and with the click of a button the report is off to City Hall. Of course, this could be the equivalent of flushing your complaint down the toilet if there wasn’t a way to track the issue, but thankfully the app has that feature. This allows residents to see a problem through to completion – without the hassle of multiple phone calls or trips to City Hall.

The GORequest application is the product of a collaboration with a 3rd party called Government Outreach that provides technology products to government agencies with the goal of improving customer service and increasing efficiency. In addition to Culver City, Government Outreach currently works with sixteen California cities including Santa Monica and Santa Clarita.

Government Outreach has no transit agencies on its client list — it’s all city governments for now. But the possibilities are certainly intriguing: imagine a Metro iPhone application that allowed riders to report problems on the fly and track the progress as Metro staff works to solve them. Also, in these times of dwindling budgets, software like this could increase efficiency and service while reducing personnel costs to the agency.

Metro staff tells me that as a public agency, and in the name of fairness, Metro can only work with companies like Government Outreach if they register as vendors and bid for projects such as the GORequest iPhone app.

Reader email, v 1.0

One of our big hopes for The Source is to include reader email and feedback. It’s one thing for us to tell you what Metro is thinking — and it’s equally important in my view to hear what customers and taxpayers think of Metro.

With that in mind, here’s our first version of Reader Email! If you would like to email us, the address is thesource@metro.net.

I recently posted my view that putting the Gold Line in the middle of the 210 freeway meant putting the station in both an unpleasant environment and too far from Lake Avenue business district in Pasadena. Saadi Howell writes:

I agree that the location of the middle of the freeway is not necessarily an ideal location for a transit station in regards to noise and traffic pollution, but on the other hand it really is the best choice when you think of wanting cheap fast grade separated lines going to dense areas of the grid. The alternatives I’ve seen built like the at grade stations in Highland Park, are too slow and inefficient.

In the end as a commuter I’ll take a fast line that requires me to walk 3 blocks over a slow line that takes me right to the door of the destination any day. I don’t think its a good thing if we turn our backs to the freeway medians as a viable grade separated transit corridors. There are portions of our grid where I think the freeways are our best option, if we want to get cheap fast grade separated commuter rail into that region.

Sure I’ll vote for wanting every line to be a grade separated subway-to-the-sea that’s dropping me off at the doorstep of every destination, but from what I’ve seen it does not seem like we have the public will or political will to take on the expenses that will be incurred with such an approach. My main point as a commuter is I wanna use our transit system, but I won’t use it if it does not meet this first requirement:

It needs to be fast.

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