Riders react to Transit TV
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Transit TV Comment
Here is the law for ADA compliance regarding public information systems. It seems all that is necessary is an announcement of the stop. I remember the bus driver making these announcements; occasionally there was something witty thrown in. It was nicer than the automated voice that does the stops now. More on the ADA requirements is in the link below.
§1192.35 Public information system.
(a) Vehicles in excess of 22 feet in length, used in multiple-stop, fixed-route service, shall be equipped with a public address system permitting the driver, or recorded or digitized human speech messages, to announce stops and provide other passenger information within the vehicle.
How much more gentile, “Next stop Brady Street. Those departing may wish to have your bags and packages ready. Please join us again tomorrow, but for now this is Bus Driver Extraordinaire Betty Furd wishing you a joyous day here in the Holy City by the Sweet Water Sea.”
The Embedded Reporter, global bus rider
About a year and a half ago I tried to pursue this. I talked with about three dozen bus drivers. All but one thought the audio was not only an annoyance, but a danger for the drivers to be able to hear car horns or sirens or people hailing a bus or somebody in danger. On the Number 10 route that goes by the Badger Home for the Blind, I talked with blind passengers who said the announcements of intersecting streets were good, but the loud shrill of the commercials was excruciating for them with their more acute hearing. Some of the guide dogs seemed to be bothered by the loud commercials. And whenever a commercial was playing, the overall level of passengers talking was louder as the people tried to communicate over the loud audio of the commercials.
I said the street announcements are fine, it was the loud shrill commercials that were offensive. They responded that the vast majority of riders enjoyed the street announcements and the commercials couldn’t be played lower according to contract requirements, because the passengers wouldn’t be able to enjoy the full benefits of the commercials.
All the drivers that I asked showed me that the overall volume of the commercials and street announcements would not go below a certain point, which would also lower the volume of the street announcements.
Finally, I tried to point out that there is an ordinance posted that says, besides no conversations with the driver, disallows food and drink and “NO LOUD AUDIO” and shows an icon of headphones. Without saying why I was asking someone else at MCTS why loud audio wouldn’t be allowed on the bus, I was told that the ordinance was developed because it was determined many years ago that it was an unsafe distraction to the drivers. When I pointed this out to Scott Walker’s office, I was told that the vast majority of riders enjoyed the street announcements and the system produced revenue for the county, that bus fares would have to go up otherwise and that the ordinance doesn’t apply to the county. I asked, what kind of example does that set for the public in the long run, about obeying laws, when they see the government routinely breaking any and all laws, and would Scott Walker ride the bus, to hear for himself, what an annoyance the commercials are. I didn’t receive any more replies.
Yes, I really despise Transit TV. The incessant “credit problems” commercials are enough to make one mad, but their “useful” aspects are anything but. The weather report is always a day old, and often they don’t even mention Milwaukee. The news reports are mediocre at best— just how much information can you get in one or two sentences?
I have also been told that the bus drivers do not have the option of turning the TVs off, or even adjusting the volume. Can you imagine trying to drive in that kind of work environment? Sometimes it is so loud you can’t even talk to the person next to you without shouting.
I also noticed today that the voice that announces the available routes at a stop was incorrect—it announced a route that isn’t there anymore, and missed another.
Gosh, I’m really generally annoyed by Transit TV. It is often super loud, such that I can hear it through my headphones…and most of the time lately it isn’t even accurate - news and even the routes are not displayed correctly - or stops announced. So what benefit I might get from it is lost.
In fact, a large number of them lately have been sound, with the screen blank. Or the sound is completely garbled.
On Tuesday night I was on the bus coming home about 11 p.m. And they had the weather report, for Tuesday, on Transit TV. Telling everyone what the weather was today. Guess I’m a dope for watching, but this was more current than some of the broadcasts. I have seen “news” on Transit TV that was 4 months old, with no dates. When I got back home to my “reality” screen (the truth we call the Internet) I typed a few words to locate the story Transit TV said was “news” and sure enough, it was a story. Was.
I don’t really mind the t.v. on the bus. Doesn’t disturb our reading. Although why they show the weather from the day before is beyond me. LOL My son always likes the “who is this person” segment. But having the time displayed and where we are in the route is nice. Like everything else it needs some improving.
Hmm, I wonder what it cost to have those things installed? Money that could have been spent on the routes? Or are they paid for by sponsors? If so, sponsors could use their money more wisely.
A couple of years ago there was a good ad on the bus warning folks about mortgage scams. And they ran it in Spanish, too. It was powerful, showing equal opportunity scammers. It may have saved some folks from losing a house through foreclosure in the past few months. But most of the Transit TV ads are preposterous weight loss, financial gain (earn $250,000 sitting on your bum), and loan sharking crapola.
Why do the weather reports from other cities never include Milwaukee? Do they think the bus riders are all riding to the airport and are about to fly to another city? Did they forget Milwaukee was the second metro area to buy Transit TV service?