The New York MTA has finally joined us in the 21st Century: It’s now offering text message alerts when there’s a service interruption on your subway line. The set-up process is easy enough, and beyond the cost of receiving text messages, it’s free.
So why have we already turned it off? Turns out the subway system is a lot worse than you’d think!
Maybe today was just an unlucky day, but by 9:30 a.m., we’d already received 11 messages from the MTA warning us about a service problem on the F line. (Going the wrong way, so it might not have directly affected us anyway.)
Why so many? Because the MTA is verbose in its messaging, and because SMS messages have a short character limit. So each alert took 2-3 messages to convey.
We’ve since switched to what seems like a better option for those of us with smartphones: E-mail updates. That should condense alerts into single messages. And it won’t make the same beeping noise we want our normal, human text messages to make.
Potential downside: We probably have a much better chance of receiving a short text message underground than getting a strong-enough data signal to check our email.
If you’re already used to getting a zillion text messages from Twitter, have an unlimited text plan, or keep your alert sounds off, then the firehose of MTA alerts is probably worth it. But we’re going to stick with the e-mail alerts for now and see how it goes.
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