Metro’s comment form and its 20 “Incident type” options.

Readers of The Transit Ombudsman want Metro to provide easier, more effective ways for us to report issues that need attention. Better service equals happier riders. And happier riders will more readily push federal, state and local governments to increase their funding of Metro.

Reader Adam F proposed that riders be able to contact Customer Service from the mobile site. The Transit Ombudsman presented this to Metro’s Information Technology (IT) staff. They see it has merit, and are adding this capability.

Erik W asked for an easy way to report trip planner issues, like these. Seattle’s Metro Transit, Portland’s TriMet and Twin Cities’ Metro Transit all offer simple forms dedicated only to trip planner feedback.

But Metro requires you to fill out a detailed online form to report a website issue. It’s more like a questionnaire. Finding the option for a website issue is like looking for bread in the grocery during the recent blizzard.

I raised the issue with Metro’s IT staff. They agreed the layout needs improvement. They’re tweaking the form. It’ll be a bit easier to find where website issues are listed.

That’s good, but there’s a larger issue here.

For each of four areas — “Type,” “Category,” “Topic” and “Incident Type” — you must make one selection from a list of options. “Topic” has 11 choices. “Incident Type” has 20. In total, you go through 43 subcategories.

The intent is to track what we comment on. But this is just crazy. Choices for “Type” include Comment, Complaint, Question, Request and Suggestion. “Topic” includes Escalator, Elevator, Grounds and Facility. “Incident type” includes Dirty, Maintenance, Safety, Security, Non-service related issue and Other. Commendation appears twice.

Tracking the topics we comment on has value. But Metro should focus less on dissecting market research for 43 subtopics, and more on addressing what we’re commenting about.’s questionnaire asks me less than Metro’s does!

Have you had specific issues with the trip planner that you didn’t report because Metro doesn’t provide an email address or a simple form dedicated only to the trip planner?

I still encourage you to make your voice heard by using Metro’s online customer comment form. Here’s one idea: ask them to simplify it. You can decide yourself whether that’s a Comment, Complaint, Question, Request or Suggestion. Frankly, I don’t know.

Dennis Jaffe has lived in the Washington area since 1999. Elected to two terms on his hometown school board and a former head of NJ Common Cause, he champions opening up government and politics. Dennis led the effort to establish the Metro Riders’ Advisory Council and served as its first chair. Now an Arlington resident, he chairs its Pedestrian Advisory Committee. His views here are his own.