Notes on Metro technology

Lan-Chi Lam is the Interactive Design and Strategy Manager at Metro. She will be writing occasional posts to update readers about Metro’s use of technology to communicate with our customers.

Mobile Web

As of December 2011, 30 percent of all web traffic visiting came from a mobile device (smart phone, cell phone, touch pad). With roughly one million visits per month, this equals approximately 300,000 visits to the site from small devices. Why the surge? Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock for the last few years, you already know its hard to deny the disruptive and immersive beck and call, er, ding and beep, of a mobile device.

I’ve been following our mobile trend for sometime and initially it was about iPhones (iOS) but once Android entered the market, there was a noticeable dramatic shift — especially this year, the Android take-over was fast and furious.

What devices are Metro customers using to visit

  • Android – 58%
  • Apple (iPhone, iPad, iPod) – 37%
  • Blackberry – 4%
  • Others – 1%
Chart: mobile breakdown from Dec 2011

Mobile devices visiting, Dec 2011. (iOS devices are a similar orange)

This year, the web / interactive design staff will be revisiting’s layout to apply responsive design for these various devices (the website was redesigned and launched in early 2010). Responsive design means a website’s information / layout will automatically format to the customer’s device (small screens, touch screens, or desktop computers). Even though we’ve set-up a mobile version of the website,, these numbers indicate mobile users don’t mind visiting the flagship website on their souped-up talking devices.

PS: We’ve been making changes to The Source‘s template — if you’ve visited this site on a touch pad or mobile device, you’ve seen responsive design in action (we’re still working out the finer details and welcome your feedback).

Interactive Maps

Two new interactive maps have been posted on, both built using Google Maps API, with Fusion Tables and the Stylized Maps feature. The Late Night Service Map displays the Metro Rail System with call-outs to destinations / businesses that are open late at night. You can click on a business, learn about the discount, and also get contact info of the establishment.

Map: Late Night Service Discounts

Major Activities of the I-405 Improvement Project displays a ‘zoomed-in’ view of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project with callouts to the work of the Mulholland, Sunset and Wilshire segments. You can click on an activity to read the description, date of the estimated task completion and view photos of some of the work being done.

Map: Major Activities of the I-405 Improvements Project

QR Codes

Throughout 2011, Metro has been actively incorporating QR codes (Quick Response Codes) onto customer materials. Resembling a jumbled barcode, a QR Code is a type of barcode capable of being read by applications on smart phones — the barcode usually leads the app to a website link. You might have already seen these codes in magazines and on retail and grocery products.

Metro first utilized QR codes on bus signs for the Nextrip service. The QR codes have been placed on customer materials for construction and corridor projects, ridership promotion and information materials, maps & schedules, Nextrip, late night service, and more. Expect more on this topic.

Have you seen them around town? Let us know. Tweet us a picture #metrolosangeles.

1 reply

  1. The QR codes are great at bus stops for easily getting the Nextrip data for a stop you may not use often or be familiar with.

    The problem is, many of them are installed WAY too high on the poles. I’m over 6 ft, and I can’t even reach close enough to scan some of them. The people installing these need to be trained and there needs to be a standard designated height range for all codes at bus stops to appear at. (I would say around 5 ft high is the best spot.)