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Metro board member: Speaker systems must be improved

Thursday - 10/11/2012, 4:06pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Power outages along the tracks of Metro's Red Line left thousands of riders stranded in a tunnel in late September.

Making matters worse, many riders could not get information on their smartphones because they were stuck in "dead zones" along the track. Audio messages that came blaring through Metro's intercoms, or even through bullhorns, were indecipherable. Metro board member Tom Downs says the speakers are an issue that needs to be addressed.

"You have to change out the speaker systems," he says.

At a panel discussion at Metro Headquarters, Downs was among those who stressed the need for wireless microphone systems like the ones already installed at some Metro stations. The systems are supposed to allow workers, firefighters and police officers to better communicate with crowds.

Downs says Metro still has not reached what he calls an "acceptable level" of communication with customers during emergencies.

In the event of an emergency, Downs says it is important that riders can access the Internet and social media websites like Twitter for news and information. Meanwhile, Metro says it is working to eliminate dead spots for cellphone and Internet service.

Many riders also say they would like to see the signs on station platforms upgraded to display better real-time information. Metro says that is an ongoing project too.

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WTOP's John Aaron contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)