These days, it’s a given that nearly everyone publishes a blog, is on Facebook, Twitter or all of the above. More and more of our work and personal lives have gravitated online. With nearly everyone seemingly reporting everything online, how does a transit agency or coach operator handle situations presented by employee scribes who blog publicly about their job?
The Oregonian recently reported on TriMet bus driver Dan Christensen’s suspension last week for his "Portland! Kill This Bicyclist" post on his personal blog, TriMet Confidential. As of Thursday night, the driver was officially back to work after a discussion with his supervisor about the post in question, according to his blog. He claims he “has written pretty much everything he can about being a bus driver in Portland” and will stop blogging for the time being. He also told the newspaper that he “could be a bus driver who blogs or a blogger who drives a bus. ... I want to be a bus driver.”
Christensen said TriMet didn’t pressure him to stop blogging, and that the point of his post was that some bicyclists are reckless. The agency reads any public blogs written by its employees, but does not make any attempt to “monitor” them. TriMet’s policy on blogging allows employees to post blogs about anything they choose, — related to TriMet or otherwise — but asks that they state the blog is not related to TriMet, and “do not cross the line” according to TriMet Communications Director Mary Fetsch. In this case, “crossing the line” meant the perception of threatening physical harm to a cyclist.
Many other transit agencies I have spoken with have a policy that is informed by the fact that having an ongoing online presence is simply a fact of life now. They remain hands-off, unless the blogger is leaking proprietary information.
What about your agency? Do you monitor employee blogs or have a policy on the online conduct of employees? Would you have handled the situation with the TriMet bus driver/blogger differently?
It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.