So I’ve certainly mentioned the phone number belonging to Metro-North where you can get schedules several times before. First, when I dialed the number that I thought was the number, which wasn’t, it turned out to be a phone sex line. And then, I mentioned that the 800 number was going to be eliminated as part of a cost cutting measure. So now there is a regular number that you can call, which isn’t too bad in terms of cost, as opposed to the 800 number. Apparently at some point the system was changed from a press button system into a voice activated system. I’m not sure when this happened, perhaps when the 800 was eliminated. I honestly don’t call the phone scheduler all that often.

Oh, and I still wont call the scheduler all that often. Mostly because it is a pain in the damn ass. In the old system you would type on your phone’s number pad the first three letters of the train station you were leaving from. Now it asks you to say the name of the station out loud. This is when the problem starts – the system is absolutely terrible in recognizing your voice if there is any sort of background noise. I’m sure that is true in most systems of this nature.

But think about it, really a company ought to think about where the system is going to be used. Microsoft employs a similar system where you can call in to activate your version of Windows. You need to read aloud your computer’s product key. If you’ve just purchased a computer, and are in the process of activating it, there is a high likelihood you are in some sort of office or home setting where it is quiet. Having a system like that makes sense. But if you are a scheduling line for a commuter railroad in one of the biggest cities in the world, there is a high likelihood that people calling in may be in a noisy area. If I am in the city and I want to know when I need to get to Grand Central to catch my train, calling that phone system means I am shit out of luck, because with all the background noise in the city, there is no way in hell that system is understanding a single thing I say. I seriously got sick of the computer voice telling me that it didn’t understand what I said. The city is so damn noisy, how could this thing possibly work? Even at stations that are far quieter, Valhalla for example, I couldn’t get the damn thing to work either. The older system was clunkier, and didn’t have as many options, but it was far easier to use, in any environment.

Anyone else use the phone information line and have difficulties? I imagine it can’t be that heavily used if the MTA decided to get rid of the 800 number, but hey, I could be wrong.

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