Metro News Release

For immediate release: February 14, 2008

The Metro Channel to enhance communications with customers

To enhance communications with customers throughout the Metrobus and Metrorail system, Metro plans to introduce The Metro Channel (TMC), a new network of large, flat-screen digital signs.

The new generation of large, flat-screen signs would provide more information and would be placed in trains and buses, on station platforms and mezzanines, in bus shelters and at street level station entrances to reach the greatest number of people. They would also create a new place for potential advertising revenue.

The Metro Channel pilot

Under normal circumstances, a portion of the screen would display advertising and the remainder would show customer information such as train arrival times, current location, time and weather, and a news crawl. During a major service disruption, the entire screen would provide customer information.

The Metro Board’s Customer Service, Operations and Safety Committee gave the go-ahead to initiate a request for proposals to move the long-term project forward. If Metro awards a contract this summer, officials anticipate that the first pilot screens giving passengers more information about Metro service would begin to appear in stations by the end of the year. New signs complete with the advertising component would begin to appear by the end of 2010 and the entire project would take four to six years to accomplish.

“We are supplementing, not replacing our current signs,” said Assistant General Manager for Information Technology Suzanne Peck. “It’s an opportunity to enhance the customer’s riding experience and expand customer information.”Metro Video: The Metro Channel

TMC would provide real-time customer information similar to what is on the passenger information display signs, currently found on Metrorail platforms and station mezzanines. In addition to providing train arrival times and elevator availability, TMC would display the time, weather, news and advertising. In the event of a major service disruption, TMC will provide passenger information about the incident, advise riders about which rail lines are running, display bus bridge locations, and give station-specific information about where to catch a bus or how to get to a nearby station.

“It’s very exciting,” said Metro Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman. “We need more information out there for our customers.”

Metro officials currently plan to place five to 11 screens in each station, depending on a station’s configuration. Eventually, all rail cars and buses will have the monitors, as will select bus shelters. During the initial stages of the rollout, Metro will gauge feedback from customers, including members of the Riders’ Advisory Council and Elderly and Disabled Transportation Advisory Committee, and use their comments to develop a final design.

“The Metro Channel represents a whole new way of communicating with our customers and presents us with an opportunity to raise advertising revenue,” said Assistant General Manager for Corporate Strategy and Communications Sara Wilson. “The new technology gives us greater flexibility and opportunities to provide more customer information, more timely information and specific instructions in the event of a service disruption to bus and rail customers.”

News release issued at 1:24 pm, February 14, 2008.