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The Weather Network
Jun. 2, 2020 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: 'Improved' Welland Canal bridge app actually offers less information
Welland Canal bridges advisory Beta app. (Supplied)

Dear editor:

Last June, The Lake Report published my op-ed about the Seaway canal bridge information system and its lack of accuracy and useful information, (“A bridge too far: Canal traffic advisories often too little, too late).

Those of you who have shared my frustration will find the following update truly hard to comprehend.

I had dropped the matter and moved on (to Niagara Falls). But recently the authority decided to have a public information meeting on the subject, and graciously sent me an invitation. In their words, “We are reaching out to you to gain your valuable insights before releasing an improved solution.”

This was a pleasant surprise, but I was going to be away. So I sent a reply outlining my long-standing concerns and recommendations, which they agreed to raise on my behalf.

Aside from the obvious issue of accuracy, the major request on my short list was to have forecasting info on Seaway’s FM channel. Currently the app forecasts ships for the next hour, but the FM channel says only “bridge available,” “bridge raised,” or “bridge going up soon.” Not very useful for the driver behind the wheel who cannot check the app safely and wants to plan his or her route.

On my return I was asked by email to beta-test the new app. Here is the link, in case you don’t believe what follows:

Yes, instead of adding functionality, they removed any that remained. The only change has been the removal of ALL forecasts from the app, so that the app is now just as useless as the FM channel for planning purposes! No explanation whatsoever for this “improved solution.”

In the past two years, the app has gone from a two-hour forecast window to one hour to none. The FM never had forecasts in the first place.

This astounding tone-deafness is not much more than a curiosity to me now, since I rarely have reason to go to St. Catharines.

But I’m retired – and others may not have that choice. For them I feel badly.

Whatever mixture of incompetence and cynicism comprises this department, the public is significantly affected by the mismanagement of their mission, and it deserves better.

George Herman