Lost on the Metro? Whip Out Your IPod

By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 1, 2006

Metro has a plan to help the confused, iPod-carrying tourist on Independence Day: The service has put a map with its Fourth of July schedule and service changes online, in a format intended for downloading and viewing on the popular digital music player.

The file, which Metro has dubbed "The Revolutionary Map," is compatible with any color-screen iPod or Nano that lets users view photos or video.

Metro riders will need to keep a number of holiday schedule changes in mind, whether they carry an iPod or not: The Smithsonian station will be closed, the Blue line will be truncated, and the Orange line will alternate between New Carrollton and Largo Town Center, just to name a few examples.

Cathy Asato, a Metro spokeswoman, said she does not know how many times the map has been downloaded since it was posted on Tuesday. Metro usually gets fewer riders on the holiday; last Fourth of July, for example, there were 541,101, compared with about 700,000 on a typical weekday.

The downloadable map is just one new tool that Metro is using to get information to riders about the service, she said. Metro also lets riders get service updates sent to their cell phones, and more iPod compatible maps are on the way this fall. "People have been asking for easier access to information on Metro," she said.

Asato has not downloaded the map herself, alas: Her iPod is too old.

Metro has been getting the word out about the map by giving local bloggers a heads up. One blog, Metroblogging DC, rated the map as "swank" though it also complained that "the fonts are jaggy and a bit hard to read."

This is not the first time mass transit maps have appeared on Apple's popular music player. The San Francisco area's BART system, for example, has an iPod version of its maps online.

A software designer in New York started scanning in and posting transit system guides on his site, http://www.ipodsubwaymaps.com/ , last year. The site now has 23 subway map files, on systems from Singapore to Salt Lake City.

Metro's map is available at http://www.wmata.com/ipodmap .

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