The Drive: Transit information offered in 200 languages

  • Article by: Tim Harlow , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 31, 2013 - 8:38 PM

Sprechen sie Deutsch? ¿Hablas Español? Koj puts hats lug hmoob?

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jbpaperMar. 31, 13 8:52 PM

How long is the average call? In other words, what's the real cost?

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jbpaperMar. 31, 13 8:54 PM

If they need a translator to make the call, how are they going to know where to catch the bus? Which bus to take? Where to get off the bus?

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SlytalkerMar. 31, 13 9:54 PM

Its a "feel good" story why ask such impertinent questions....

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hermajestyMar. 31, 1311:08 PM

jbpaper:"f they need a translator to make the call, how are they going to know where to catch the bus? Which bus to take? Where to get off the bus?"--First of all, they're using interpreters, not translators, since translators work only with written material. Second, the interpreters aren't sitting around all day in some office being paid; they work only when there's a need, which may be as little as every few months in the case of something exotic. Third, the interpreter tells them all that stuff in advance.

I don't work for the MTC, but I have used similar services myself when traveling overseas to find out information about transit schedules. I've told the interpreter where I want to go and when, and the interpreter tells me, "You catch this bus at such-and-such a corner, and then you ride it to this other corner, where there's a park with a statue of a man on a horse. It costs x amount exact change or you can buy a daily or weekly pass for y amount." You're making this seem more difficult than it actually is.

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mrarmsMar. 31, 1311:26 PM

Quality interpreters bill at $50/hour in medical clinics. Doesn't 'feel good' when it comes time to pay for this service. That's right. We can't afford to house the homeless, but you can get directions to MOA in 200 languages. We are doomed.

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serfdumbMar. 31, 1311:56 PM

Transit providers are billed $1.25 per minute per call to provide the service, said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland. - I am assuming that "Transit Providers" is a euphemism for the MTC, which would translate into the tax payer. The official language is english, learn it. Tired of pandering to those that will not assimilate! I bet each one has a phone that will translate for them. Tired of the lies and stealing by government.

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serfdumbApr. 1, 1312:03 AM

hermajesty: It costs x amount exact change or you can buy a daily or weekly pass for y amount." You're making this seem more difficult than it actually is. - The issue is, they do not say the person asking for translation is paying for this. If a person wants to pay, I am all for it. I don't care if the person that needs it, gets to where they want to go, nor, do I want to pay for it! Pay your own way!

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jojoobooApr. 1, 1312:51 AM

A user-pay model would make more sense. Promoting something that is nothing but an expense is ridiculous.

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godiveApr. 1, 13 7:01 AM

Why didn't the reporter get the total cost to MTC for last year and print that. Would help in form readers more than the $1.25 per call figure.

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EleanoreApr. 1, 13 7:21 AM

Example: Translating transit information into the 200th least used language on the planet, at state taxpayers expense. Result: the kind of thing that IS done which keeps us from having the tax dollars we NEED to do the things we NEED to do. Solution: Stop spending so much, here's something you can cut to say, the top 25 languages used, that should get 90 some percent of the people taken care of which is a better raito than our schools are doing.

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