Metro Transit's website has a new look and a new feel, but the best news is that those who log on should now have an easier time planning trips and finding the content they want, no matter what type of device they use - desktop, tablet, mobile phone or other.
The agency rolled out its newly redesigned and rebuilt site over the weekend and announced the improvements Monday.
Among them is the arrangement of information, with the agency's popular online trip planner prominently featured on the home page. Users can now click on a tab to find a particular stop or station, check schedules for a particular route, or plan a trip from scratch with just a couple clicks. There also is a map with GPS integration.
"We found that people had a hard time finding the information they needed," said project manager Adam Mehl. "We saw there were road blocks in finding information they needed. It was clear we needed to do a decent overhaul on the site"
Now, he said, no matter where a user goes on the site, "they are only one click away" from finding it.
That was one of the most frustrating parts of the old website which was last updated in 2010, Mehl said. Too many deadends and obstacles to overcome. And mobile device users often ran into trouble trying to access content. That should be improved experience, Mehl said.
Aside from trip planning, a feature used by 7 million riders last year, the home page has an updated NexTrip box that allows riders to get real-time bus and train schedules, an area to check the balance of the Go-To Cards and a search box that actually works. Type in Union Depot, for example, and it will take you to deeper content that in the past you might not even known was there.
"The new metrotransit.org environment is a leap forward for customers exploring our growing transit system,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. “Mobile devices in particular have fundamentally changed the way our customers use and think about our bus and rail network.”
Another change users will notice is that information is presented in plain language, said spokesman John Siqveland. An example of that is that the old Services Finder link has been renamed as Stops and Stations. It lists amenities available at bus stops and rail stations.
Earlier this year Gov. Mark Dayton issued an order to all state agencies to present information in commonly-used language through easily accessible formats. The redesigned website will allow users with "an easy way to get content," Siqveland said.
So what do you think of the new website? Tell the Drive the good, bad and the in between. And of course you can tell Metro Transit at 612-373-3333 or online.