The voice that announces stops on the bus

A few weeks ago I noticed something odd about the voice that announces the stops on the bus, it was happy. For those of you who haven’t been on the public limo, there is a voice that announces upcoming stops to passengers in a cold and robotic tone of voice, kinda like a Mr. Spell and Speak. I was in Hollywood with a friend and during our ride I noticed that voice was ecstatic when announcing the Hollywood stops. It’s something that stands out right away to any regular bus rider because the voice goes from its boring,deep, low tone to a energetic,happy high tone right away. I pointed it out to my friend and she noticed the difference as well. Well once I got home later that day I sent Metro an email on July 2 asking a few questions about the voice recording and how it works. On July 21 I received the following reply, (Note: I removed my real named and replaced it with my blog name)

Dear El Random Hero,

The stop announcements are manually recorded, but they are triggered automatically when the vehicle comes to a stop. When a stop is established, the stop is geo-coded (lat/long location) that defines the stop. The lat/long location is used to create a trigger box (typically 100-250′ from the lat/long point). Whenever the bus enters the trigger box, the vehicle will make the announcement (assuming the operator is running a schedule that uses that particular stop). Some trigger boxes are longer than others to account for a stop which may be a very heavy transit stop and shared by many lines (transit centers, airports, USG, etc.). We appreciate your inquiry and this opportunity to respond.

Metro Customer Relations

In my questions I neglected to ask about the voice recordings accent and tone of voice because I didn’t think it would be an appropriate question to ask. If I did I would basically have to ask “Why does the voice sound sad and depressed when announcing ethnic streets in more urban areas and sound high class in fancier areas ?” My hypothesis is that it’s because it’s the Hollywood line. I imagine the city wants to keep some sort of quality control to keep tourist coming back and to not scare them away. But honestly, you would think that someone involved in the recording process must have corrected the person recording on how to properly pronounce a simple street name, that’s what dictionaries are for right ? Either way I still get a kick out of that voice botching up names like Cesar E. Chavez, Rampart and of course Hollywood !!!   


5 thoughts on “The voice that announces stops on the bus

  1. ha! me and my girl rode the 780 from pasadena and noticed the same thing some weeks ago… but “hollywood” is the only thing it says with enthusiasm, and only when it’s the first street name in the intersection announcement, if it’s the secondary street name, it’ll say it in the same mta monotone. the voice is also bilingual… anyone been on the bus when it announces “cesar e. chavez” en español?

  2. Interesting observation. In a city where commercial appeal is very important—it makes sense that robotic voices are another opportunity to sell, sell, sell. In this case selling Hollywood. The first time I rode the bus home from the westside, I could not figure out what the computer voice was saying—when it would announce “SehSarrr eeee ChahVehzz”. I thought it was saying “Cesar y Chavez” in Spanish due to the prolonged “eeee” of Cesar Chavez’s middle initial. Now, I always walk off the bus mimicking the accent to myself and laughing.

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