Better Real-Time Maps Coming Soon to All Nine Muni Metro Stations
The new, more helpful map software is already in use on some displays at Embarcadero, Van Ness, and West Portal stations, said MTA spokesperson Judson True. One was also recently installed at Castro station. It was first piloted in May 2008, and from a design standpoint, True said it's been getting praise from some riders. The MTA commissioned the new Flash-based map software from NextBus, which the agency contracts with to provide NextMuni real-time arrival data.
Muni received complaints initially about the accuracy of the data on the new maps. NextBus data isn't available because GPS doesn't work in the tunnels, and Advanced Train Control System (ATCS) train location data can't smoothly be transferred to the NextMuni system until an upgrade to a key component of the ATCS is completed, which will take three years.
The old maps don't have this challenge because they're taken from screenshots of the ATCS software, which was designed for operators, not the general public. The MTA has been working to tweak and patch the data on the new maps in the meantime, however, and True said the agency now receives few complaints about their accuracy.
Though the new maps are undoubtedly a leap forward from the old ones, a city with as much design and computer science talent as San Francisco will undoubtedly produce some incisive critiques and suggestions. The MTA is "always open to suggestions, absolutely," said True, as long as they're "advisable," and funding is available.
Have you seen the new map software at other Muni Metro stations? Is the arrival time data on the new maps reliable, or still on the fritz? Still spotting the Blue Screen of Death pop up on the LCDs? Let us know what you're seeing in the comments section below.