Changes to Our Website

As promised, not every one of my posts will be about the IVR. It wouldn’t make for very interesting reading no matter how much you love that technology. But while I am on the topic of apologies, there is one more area that I would like to discuss in terms of where we are and where we would like to be: the Capital Metro Web site. As I write, our Web site is being prepared for a number of changes and enhancements that should make it simpler and more useful for the community (and a lot easier for us to update and keep fresh, too).

The first thing our team did was look at other transit agencies to see what they had done that made sense and what mistakes they had made. This, along with many of the things we have wanted to do for a while but did not have the time or skills to implement, led to a list of things we wanted to build into our next generation Web site. While the brainstorming was easy, the prioritization has not been. We want to vet the list of ideas through the public to see which ones ring true and which ones are not worth pursuing (see below).

We are hoping to get a new look and feel to the page (to freshen it up) and to incorporate features that will take advantage of our new bus tracking system that we are rolling out this fall.

So, tell us. What features would be most valuable to you?

Ideas for new web features:
_____ Much improved Customer Comment Request system (inquiry, trouble ticket, etc.) entry, FAQ, and routing to/from the person that needs to respond.

_____ Ability to put performance metrics on the website.

_____ Ability to have the web visitor rate usefulness of content.

_____ A MyCapMetro page whereby personalized information is accessible based on what I’m interested in, such as: common trips (departure and arrival for common routes – such as to work or work to home), next bus for a few highly used (personally selected) routes – perhaps simply scrolling up to three ‘next departure’ times for certain routes at certain locations based off of GPS data, complaints entered and responses to them, and automatic feeds on topics of personal interest from the Web site, such as STS or Rail, or Board Meetings, etc.

_____ Mobile device button/section on first page, like BART’s, that allows phones and PDAs to download schedules.

_____ Aesthetically pleasing tourist section, like NJ Transit.

_____ Service Alert section at top of home page. Service alerts also listed on schedule pages.

_____ Easy online store.

_____ Language conversion like WMATA.

_____ Community Calendar with trip planner pre-encoded to destination.

_____ Trip Planner: enhanced graphic user interface, drop-down menus, links to interactive maps and service interruptions.

_____ Icons on the front page to distinguish modes (rail, express, local, STS, etc.) clicks through to page with pull down menus of routes and include fare information, etc.

_____ Less “What’s Happening” on the front page and more service information.

_____ Front page feature to click through to detours.

_____ Larger font size (currently 8.5 and gray).

_____ Ability to magnify web pages for those that are visually impaired (see http://www.tafn.org.uk/ for example).

_____ More white space on the pages – simpler, less cluttered design.

_____ Easier, more direct link to interactive maps.

_____ Overall ease in finding what you are seeking – no more than three clicks to any page.

_____ Clarity of pages – easier navigation.

_____ ADA: Bobby approved, 508 and W3C certified.

_____ Live chat with customer service.

_____ Front page link for meetings and events.

_____ Front page feature for project Updates (i.e. All Systems Go).

_____ Improved design on schedules page to reduce the long, undefined columns. Redesigned for easier reading and downloading to mobile devices.

_____ Text messages when my bus is late.

_____ How to ride videos.

_____ “Testing area” for new technologies (like Google Labs).

_____ Forum for dialogue with public.

_____ Orbital ITS (next bus and live tracking of vehicles) online.

_____ Web component for paratransit.

_____ Touchless transit pass or smart card that could be recharged online.

5 thoughts on “Changes to Our Website

  1. Mishal Al-Johar

    I would love to see Capital Metro routes all mapped on Google Maps.

    Right now you have a beta feature that shows busroutes one by one on google maps, but i’d like to be able to toggle different routes at the same time.

    For example, I’d like a map where i can turn off and on bus routes, so i can compare say the Number 5 to the Number 1.

  2. Amanda

    Next bus and live tracking of vehicles! PRETTY PLEASE! I think the website currently is functional but clearly not spectacular. A lot of the things you’ve listed would improve the website experience certainly…but having nextbus and live tracking capability would improve the overall _riding_ experience, and I think that’s really the point. That said, I appreciate that you’re soliciting rider input!

  3. Don Dickson

    I particularly like the idea of a MyCapMetro page where you can save various locations (home, office, supermarket, family members’ homes) in a customizable trip planner. And it would be great to have an “intelligent” trip planner that could tell me when I could leave to make my trip involving a transfer in thirty-five minutes instead of an hour.

    I would also agree that delay and detour information should be more prominently displayed. (I’m growing a little tired of seeing detour signs at bus stops that tell me that because of some special event, a particular bus will be detoured “until end of event.”)

  4. Kirk Talbott

    Thank you for the feedback.

    Mishal Al-johar: We actually have had .kml files of all of our routes for a while, but due to an oversite they were not readily available on our webpage. But you can download each .kml file for each route independently here: http://www.capmetro.org/gismaps/kml/

    Amanda: Once we roll out the ITS technology on our fleet this fall we will deliver next bus and realtime tracking from the web. Probably worth blogging about pretty soon.

    Don Dickson: Thanks for the feedback, we will see how we can incorporate it into our final web product.

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