Not long ago, Metro faced harsh criticism for not being as transparent as some had hoped. There were many gripes about the agency’s lack of public openness; its failure to post meeting times online was one of them. Metro caved-in last year and started posting the times online, but the rebranded “New Metro” has gone a step further. Now people can watch committee meetings and board meetings live on their computers.
“It used to be hard to figure out even when the meetings were. And then once you knew when the meeting was, you had to be able to get downtown. Now, Metro is telling us when the meetings are ahead of time. And we’ve got easy web access to watch it from our home or office or wherever we are across the region. I mean, that’s fantastic.”
Robin Holzer of the Citizens Transportation Coalition says the webcasting feature is a positive improvement. People can watch the meetings live on Metro’s website, or view them later through the online archives. Metro President and CEO George Greanias underscored the benefit of being able to stream the board’s committee meetings since that’s where most of the decision-making takes place.
“People will be able to see exactly what’s going on at Metro in terms of the issues that are being dealt with; the concerns that are being expressed about those issues; and what Metro’s deciding to do about them.”
But watching the meetings online only gives people the opportunity to receive information, not give it.
“If somebody has something they want to say, a concern they want to express to the board, I think their best bet is still to come down and talk face to face.”
By voicing their concerns in person, Greanias says people are able to get feedback from the board in the moment. Holzer agrees but says the new webcasts may spur other modes of involvement.
“I think that the option to watch the meeting will at least allow people the information they need to be able to send a comment in writing or engage in other ways.”
Holzer says transit projects are better when the public’s involved. The first step, she adds, is knowing what Metro has on the table.
After promoting how the “New Metro” will provide more opportunity for public involvement, the agency contends its new webcast feature is another step toward its goal of greater transparency.