Bus

‘Town Hall to Twitter’ session tackles social media benefits, obstacles

Posted on October 5, 2011

Social media’s benefits and pitfalls as tools for transit operations to connect with the public were discussed in the “From Town Hall to Twitter: A New Era in Customer Communications” session held on Tuesday.

Linda Watson, president/CEO of Austin, Texas’ Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, moderated the session, sharing her agency’s experience with using Twitter to make CEO interviews available to the community online and received an overwhelming response. “As the new CEO, I understood immediately that I needed to engage in traditional and non-traditional ways in the community,” Watson said.

Panelists weighed in on ways they have successfully employed social media and the challenges they encountered. Richard Davey, Secretary/CEO MassDOT, discussed the agency’s “GM for a Day” program on Twitter, which invited tweeters to shadow MassDOT staff for one day, and turned some chronically complaining posters around with a new understanding of the complications of a transit system. 

Davey added that Twitter “saved the MBTA” last winter, when a severe snow storm crashed the agency website. The staff was able to tweet updates on service changes to riders.

Bill Velasco, board member Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), holding up his smart phone, underscored the point that, with social media, “All the stuff you can do is right here.” Jacqueline Lewis Halldow, chief of staff, NJ Transit, agreed, adding that the results of the agency’s most recent customer survey showed that out of the 19,000 customers surveyed, 87 percent use the mobile devices.

Reaching out and getting feedback from Twitter and other social media works best when used along with face-to-face interaction with the community, Lee Kemp, board member Denver Regional Transportation District, said.

A Twitter audience can be particularly helpful to a transit operation, Davey said, by providing another set of eyes and ears on the system. MassDOT, he explained, encourages riders to tweet photos on the trains and buses to help draw attention to maintenance issues.

Joe Calabrese, CEO/GM Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, said that the downside to connecting with the public through social media is the expectation that communication will be “24/7” which can be a challenge for staff. Additionally, panelists agreed that Twitter and Facebook have not reduced print communication or phone calls.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Denver RTD unveils its Flatiron Flyer BRT vehicle

The Flatiron Flyer buses, which were supplied by MCI and can carry 57 passengers each, are specially branded with a unique blue-and-sunrise-orange paint scheme designed by RTD and a U.S. 36 corridor stakeholder group.

Safe Fleet acquires Hadley's bus, motorcoach mirror product lines

The Hadley mirror business will remain in Elkhart, Ind., but will relocate from the Hadley site to its own production facility over the next few months. The management, engineering, customer service, administrative and production personnel of the Hadley mirror business will remain with the business and transition to Safe Fleet.

BusCon returns to Indy

Each year, more and more people look forward to BusCon as a chance to network, learn about new trends and technology, and gain the tools that are necessary to revitalize the way they tackle their own operations.

Project team wins award for N.Y. bus time displays

The countdown clocks were developed in part to address concerns about the overall accessibility of MTA’s Bus Time system, which sends wait-time information to riders via text message, a QR code scan, or over a web site.

Boston could benefit from more BRT, report says

The report argues that the city should be pushing for the “gold standard” of BRT. That would include a control station that monitors buses and ensures they come at well-spaced intervals and enclosed stops that shelter customers.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The resource for managers of class 1-7 truck Fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close