This entry can be considered a continuation of the entry below which focused on the MTA’s vow to improve storm performance. I decided to reread the entire report & develop further opinions about their suggestions. The key suggestion that caught my eye referred to developing capacity for real time text alerts.
I applaud the idea on merit but question the reality of it getting done. The MTA already has such a system in place for LIRR commuters. The LIRR system has 24,000 subscribers & it takes up to 1.5 hours to send out alerts to all of them. New Jersey Transit has a similar system in place & it sends alerts to approximately 46,000 subscribers. The major issue is can any of these agencies handle a real big upswing in subscribers?
Considering the amount of straphangers who depend on our system in the tri-state area, their current levels are quite low. They have problems pushing alerts out fast enough to such a small number of subscribers. What happens when the number of subscribers doubles, or goes into 6 figures? The current timing of alerts reaching everyone will not cut the mustard as such data will probably be outdated by time it reaches everyone.
The other major factor is character limits when it comes to cell phones. Most cell phones have a character limit of 160 for text messages. I would speculate at minimum, 90% of the MTA’s service alerts would surpass that limit with ease. Unfortunately the option to scale back on characters can not be considered as a solution.
In reality, can the MTA really produce a system with legitimate real time capacity & execute it as it should be? I have my doubts……