RTD debuts enhanced Service Alerts system, including text notifications

RTD has debuted an enhanced Service Alerts system that allows for signups down to the stop level – and notifications can now be sent by text message, a change that customers have long been requesting.

These modifications are made possible as RTD moves from one marketing platform, GovDelivery, to another, Salesforce, to manage subscriptions and send email. The previous system provided customers with notifications to the route level. The new system offers more targeted notifications, including direction of travel and specific stops. Individuals can elect to be notified by email, text message or both. Customers can also create an account in Salesforce to manage subscriptions to alerts and RTD newsletters. The new system provides customers with information they need – and cuts clutter and confusion by eliminating notifications that may not be relevant.

RTD customers can sign up for enhanced Service Alerts by clicking on the subscription page, also accessible by clicking “Sign up” from the Service Alerts page. The process can be completed using any web browser or smartphone. RTD customers already receiving Service Alerts will have their email addresses moved into Salesforce, and they will continue receiving alerts using preferences they had previously chosen. They can update their preferences by creating an account using the first link above.

The Salesforce system produces consistent alerts using General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data for all modes of scheduled service (e.g., bus, light rail and commuter rail) throughout the RTD system. The software then generates a message that is posted on the website, emailed to customers and included in the agency’s real-time feed for third-party developers (e.g., Uber, Lyft and Transit) to pick up for inclusion on their apps.

This project has been in development for close to three years, with RTD studying the approaches of several other U.S. transit agencies and transitioning to Salesforce over the course of a year. Testing occurred through much of 2021, and signups were first offered in the latter part of last year.

The agency considered customer feedback, including the desire for a higher level of granularity in Service Alerts. RTD conducted a focus group in August with a customer panel to discuss their experience using a beta version of the new system, such as creating an account and subscribing to and unsubscribing from alerts. Respondents said they found the process to be easy to navigate, intuitive and an improvement over the prior alert system.