Inside D.C. entertainment

How fucked is Metro? Web developer seeks algorithmic answer

April 27, 2011 - 04:04 PM
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As any regional Twitter fiend knows, expressions of profanity have a very close relationship with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA/Metro). They're on a single track, so to speak.

And that may explain why the brand-new website howfuckedismetro.com is killing it on visitors today. According to site founder Joey Brunelle, the site has gotten in excess of 6,000 hits since it went live around midnight.

Given its name, you might suppose that the site provides rants about Metro service, spleen about track-maintenance schedules, diatribes about the agency's agility on social media. Nope, it's all about utility. The homepage is essentially a presentation of colors — one for each of the system's rail lines. Click on any one of them, and you get a readout of how trains on that line are performing. Are there any delays? When's the next train?

On each page, the site sticks to its shtick, throwing around F-bombs like so many escalator breakdown alerts. At this moment, for example, Fort Totten "isn't fucked"; Huntington, too, "isn't fucked." If you work at a church or perhaps a day-care center, you may want to avail yourself of the site's SFW version, howsmetro.com, in which case Fort Totten "looks decent."

Why the polite option? "I was actually worried that a lot of offices would block the NSFW site simply because of the profanity used in the URL," Brunelle says. That's what went down when Brunelle launched the Boston version, howfuckedisthet.com

Brunelle is a freelance web designer with a passion for mapping train arrival times. And transit in general; when I caught him, he was on a bus. His brainstorm for the how-fucked genre was derivative---he'd seen one for San Francisco and thought he could improve upon it. So he launched the Boston site.

The guy hates ads, calling them "ugly," so he solicits donations on the sites. The tin-cup interface is every bit as clean and easy on the eyes as the Metro-line-delay interfaces. By which I mean very. Ease of use notwithstanding, Brunelle says he's losing money on the enterprise at the moment. His connection with the area came in his freshman year at American University. Despite the name of his site, he claims to "really like" the Metro system.

And getting back to that name — did Brunelle have to pay big bucks to pry it from some domain-name squatter? "Nope, the domain name was available when I looked for it," he says.

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