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MBTA to launch faster, more informative 'T-Alerts' system; old system to be discontinued

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  May 16, 2013 12:43 PM

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The MBTA says riders will soon be able to receive faster, more reliable, and more informative alerts, via text and e-mail, notifying them about service delays and disruptions and planned changes.

The revamped “T-Alerts” notification system will launch June 4.

Riders can register for the new service today at www.mbta.com.

The more than 50,000 subscribers of the existing “T-Alerts” system must sign up for the new system to continue to receive alerts. The old system, which launched in 2007, will be discontinued.

The T plans to remind current subscribers that they should sign up for the new system by sending them alerts starting Friday.

Under the new system, alerts will continue to be posted to the T’s website, “with visual enhancements made to page layout and format for clarity, ease-of-use, and reader-friendliness,” the public transit agency said in a statement Thursday.

Text message and e-mail alerts will have more “reliable delivery times” through a new partnership between the T and GovDelivery, a digital communication management company.

“Service alerts and notifications will be clearer and more detailed with additional information regarding specific trip times, service schedule changes, and distinct directional, branch, and station communications,” the statement said.

Like the old system, the new T-Alerts allows riders to tailor which alerts they receive. Riders can choose to be sent alerts about a mix of subway, commuter rail, and boat lines, bus routes and elevators and escalators within the system.

Customizing is easier under the new system and allows some additional flexibility when signing up, including letting customers pick certain times of the day for when they want to receive alerts, T spokeswoman Kelly Smith said.

T officials also hope the new notification system will pave the way for third-party software developers to create new smartphone applications and websites around the “T-Alerts” system, Smith said.

Such apps could allow riders even more options for customizing how they receive alerts, she said.

Smith said the T will make new tools available to third-party developers later this month.

“Based on past experience we expect to see some innovative, useful and interesting applications of that information on smartphone apps and websites,” she said in an e-mail.

The new “T-Alerts” system “is built around data structures that enable sharing, encouraging innovative third-party development,” the T’s statement said. “It uses emerging standards introduced by Google in 2011.”

Developers interested in creating software applications around “T-Alerts,” can visit developer.mbta.com.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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