Sunday, June 27, 2010

Metro St. Louis Service Changes June 28. You'd Think They'd Want Us To Know About Them

After a hard fought campaign to increase funding for St. Louis' Metro Public Transit System, the day service increases take effect is almost upon us.  Many will benefit from the new service and increases or changes in existing service.  That's good, but trying to find information on the upgrades is, in true Metro fashion, as hard as finding a bus west of Union Station on Market Street.
The Metro Website uses what web folks call a "Dynamic Lead" to link you to the page with the service changes  but its one of EIGHT rotating leads, so if you're not looking for the lead's four second appearance, you won't find it.  You can find the list of service changes on a dropdown menu, but again its buried along with a list of other items.  One would think that if Metro wanted to go shouting from the mountain that they have service upgrades coming, they'd at least use their own web site to SCREAM the news.
OK, if not the website, they could use their allegedly cutting edge social media blog Next Stop STL to pimp the changes.  Not so much.  Not a post on the front page about the changes, but some lovely YouTube videos of how Volkswagen has applied their "fun theory" to mass transit stations IN OTHER CITIES.   
Wait, I found a place to click on the blog's homepage that says "System Changes".  It takes me to a post from SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 about what might come in the future.  One more chance, a place in the nav bar that says "Restoration 2010".  So I click on it and am let to A post from April, 2010 that shows the PROPOSED route changes, many of which aren't even what finally got approved.
I've been both hard and complimentary in my writings about Metro.  I think the people doing the planning and development of new bus routes are doing the best they can with what they have.  I think some people there really care about public transit and our region.  But again, I have to say that the public relations and publicity efforts of Metro are amateurish and largely ineffective. 
As a Metro patron, I need to know what they're doing to change routes, and honestly the changes coming on June 28 will affect me, so I've searched out the information.  As a communications professional, I have to look at Metro's efforts and shake my head in disbelief.  And if I were a person thinking about giving Metro a whirl wen their new routes start, I'd most likely be completely lost trying to find the details of the changes. 
So let me try to make this just a little bit easier.  If you're looking for a complete rundown of the service changes coming Monday, June 28th, you can go directly to this link.  It may not be the easiest to navigate, but it does give an overview of the routes that are changing and a web 1.0 list of links to a bunch of PDF's with route information.  At least all the information is in one place. 
The local newspaper's transit blog had this to say about the service restoration Monday

Metro officials and elected leaders will be on hand Monday to welcome passengers back. They will hand out wrapped cookies at MetroLink stations and bus transfer centers.
That's fine and dandy, but won't make a lick of difference if people don't know that all these changes are taking place.
I see on the Metro Website that they're recruiting for a new CEO.  Perhaps they should find a minimally competent marketing and public relations staff first. 
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