MBTA Web Site Redesign — Updated

When I was looking through the MBTA site while writing the post below I noticed some slowness but nothing too bad. Now the site is basically crawling. According to a short entry on Boston.com MBTA posted a notice on the site:

The MBTA apologizes for the slow response-time users experienced this afternoon on our website. We are currently doing everything we can to improve performance, and the new site will be re-released soon. In order to give customers the content needed, we are offering our former site while we work out the problems. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

I went to the site on reading this and (when it eventually loaded) I didn’t see this message and found myself viewing what I had seen earlier in the day. Now, I am not a regular MBTA rider so my view will likely be different than those who rely on the site more than me. I still believe what I wrote below. Hopefully those responsible for maintaining the MBTA site will be able to fix things quickly.

When I moved to Massachusetts I tried to figure out how to get around the Boston area. Going anywhere near Boston-proper was not something I wanted to do in a car since the roads here are constantly packed with seemingly unemployed people with nothing better to do than drive in front of me.

So I turned to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) web site.

Out With the Old

old mbta site

Not all the images loaded since I grabbed the screen shot via the Web Archive. But it gives the general idea of what the site looked like. The functionality I needed was there, but often buried two or three pages deep from the home page. And I didn’t always know what the results of my search meant, likely because I was new to the area.

One of the biggest issues I had was, for example, finding my way from my home to the Museum of Science. According to the site I would have to take Commuter Rail, then the Subway, then walk. They do provide walking directions, but I still found it difficult to understand since I didn’t know the landmarks used in the descriptions.

In With the New

new mbta site

You might see a site that looks like the above if you go to the MBTA web site today. I have been seeing the old and new versions as I wander around the site this morning. Some things don’t work quite right, but I suspect that will all iron out by tomorrow at the latest. For example, the Trip Planner fields offer Intellisense-style input (possible options display as you type) but they work sporadically right now.

Big, big, big improvements. First off, it just looks so much better. Granted it has its share of gradients, diagonal lines, and drop shadows but I think it does look good. Next, and most importantly, one of the primary tasks in using the site is right on the home page: the trip planning form.

Right away I can figure out which transportation I need to use to get from A to B and back. And to top it off, for me at least, I now have a better understanding of there I am in the MBTA world compared to the city. Thanks to some Google Maps integration, I can see how to get to the Museum of Science. It looks very straight forward now and I don’t have that feeling like I will get lost.

example of trip on mbta site

This redesign has been in the works for the past few months at least. When I first started using the site I got a little pop up asking me to take a survey on the site for the coming redesign. They asked some great questions about how I used the site, what I liked, what I didn’t. I told them to use gradients, diagonal lines, and drop shadows so I am sure that’s all me baby. :) Seriously though, I will likely find things that annoy me but this redesign is a big win in my book.

Anyone know who designed it? Was it in-house MBTA? I looked at the code too and it looks pretty good. Not a table in site. Ha, “table in site.” I meant to type “table in sight.”

Regardless, I now feel like its much more likely I will show up on Patrick Haney‘s doorstep (at work, at work!) asking if his Wii can come out and play.

being silly with mbta site


  1. I’m pretty sure the MBTA isn’t going to give you good directions to my Wii, but it’s worth a try. However, if you’d like to come play some Wii Sports sometime, let me know.

    The new MBTA site is actually looking pretty good, but since it was dog slow this morning (and they didn’t have the Google Maps API URL setup for non-www URLs), I didn’t really get to look around much.

  2. This morning, I was at Wellington station, trying to resale a pass because when I got my pass it was nobody to help me, and for some reason I ended having two passes.I did not know that was ilegal what I was doing, because this is the first time that happen to me, when suddenly this MBTA employee start yelling and insulting me, she inmediatelly call the MBTA police and give them all my description like I was a criminal, it was no reason for her to do that, it will be a big difference if she came to me in a good manner and tell me that it wasn’t right what I was doing.

    Never on my life I been feeling so humilliated and discriminated, in front of a lot people that at that time was getting their T pass, because of my skin color, she show no respect for me. People working on the public places should be more open and educated, because I was so nervous I did not ask her for her name and Budge #, but the time was 8:20 AM. I am a citizen and I deserve the same respect of other etnic races in this country.

    My last comment is, please made the MBTA employees have more respect for others as human beings, specially the bus drivers, because when somebody ask then a question they give people an attitude.

    For the sake of others I hope this incident will not occur to others, it wasn’t a pleasant moment I have this morning, starting the week.

    I hope this comment will help you to improve the services at the T stations and all route buses; some of the drivers are so nice, but most are terrible, they run late or sometimes never show up at all.

    Sincerely yours,

    Tomasa Tinoco

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