You know that scene in the original Jurassic Park when the power is out and the security system is down? It's the climax of the movie and no one knows how to use a computer except for the 12-year-old girl in the room who turns out to be a hacker?
"It's a UNIX system," she exclaims as the computer's graphics halt and stutter to life around her mouse. "I know this!" The tension builds, the velociraptors are almost in the control room, and the mouse cannot move any slower. And then—she has it! On a screen filled with blue squares on a pixelated green and black background, she's picked the right one. She's hacked the system! She's saved the day! Everyone lives (aside from the supporting characters whose names you barely knew, aside from Muldoon, of course, because he had excellent quads). Technology was man's folly, but also their saving grace.
I felt like that 12-year-old girl every time I successfully navigated Sound Transit's old website.
That thing—the link for the public to the entity in charge of the country's most ambitious transit expansion—looked and operated more like a fossil than any of those Jurassic Park dinos. It was so sad to look at, so sad to use, and just a giant pain in the ass if you were trying to find out any information, especially on your phone. It might as well have been a UNIX system from 1993.
Seriously, look at this:
The worst part about this was that it wasn't made in 1989. It was made in 2011. 2011!!! To put this into context, 2011 was the year of the iPad, the death of the Blackberry (and Bin Laden), and the spawn of Google+. Yet, Sound Transit gave us a website that looked like some pre-Y2K-You've Got Mail-belongs-in-Paul-Allen's-Living-Computer-Museum artifact.
Finally, in 2018—when Google+ kicked the bucket for good (coincidence??)—soundtransit.org has had its Renaissance, its second coming.
"It was time for an update," John Gallagher, Sound Transit's public information officer, wrote in an email to The Stranger.
Two and a half years in the making, the new website is shiny and new just like all those light rail stations we'll be getting in—uh, well, at some point. The new website has hot pink where the old website had dull grays and an array of off-whites. It has diverse pictures and interactive maps.
You can scope out your routes and plan your trips on this website, get up to date on just when that Roosevelt station is going to open, and it looks better on mobile than it does on a computer. Don't get me wrong, it still looks great on a computer. But whew, swiping through that bad boy on my phone feels like I'm sipping moon juice while hover-boarding across Lake Washington (in this future hover-boards work on water).
The old site had bells and whistles, too. But you couldn't get to them without feeling like it was a chore. With this new website, Sound Transit finally feels like its the transit organization for one of the top tech hubs in the country.
Let's see if they can figure out "stair" technology next.