NYC Subway's Email Alerts Fail The Blizzard Test

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Experience will tell you that New York City’s Subway system doesn’t handle bad weather well. So with several inches of snowfall overnight, of course the Subway was going to suck today. But isn’t that what the MTA’s new digital alert system is supposed to tell you in advance?

Last November, the MTA launched a new text message/email alerts system to let you know when there is a service interruption anywhere on your subway line. As a result, we get dozens of emails a week about police investigations, sick passengers, smoke conditions, and numerous track problems all along the F train, from Coney Island to Jamaica.

But on a morning when trains (our beloved F, at least) were only arriving every 15-20 minutes — during rush hour — and the ones that did come were so full that most people couldn’t board, we got nothing. Just one “mechanical problems” alert for trains running to Coney Island that was canceled 16 minutes later.

Isn’t this when the MTA should be sending you an email noting that your train is running at half its usual frequency — with no capacity? That maybe it’s a good idea to walk to a specific nearby line if you have to be anywhere on time? Or to walk to work?

Big deal? No. But yet another city tech project that’s essentially worthless. And a potential opportunity for an entrepreneur who wants to try organising real, user-submitted reports about Subway conditions into a useful service — something the MTA has failed to create.

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