October 5, 2011

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

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.

deli.cio.us digg it stumble upon newsvine
[ Request More Info about this product / service / company ]


E-NEWSLETTER

Receive the latest Metro E-Newsletters in your inbox!

Join the Metro E-Newsletters and receive the latest news in your e-mail inbox once a week. SIGN UP NOW!

View the latest eNews
Express Tuesday | Express Thursday | University Transit

White Papers

Mass Transit Capital Planning An overview of the world-class best practices for assessing, prioritizing, and funding capital projects to optimize resources and align with the organization’s most critical immediate and long-term goals.

The Benefits of Door-to-Door Service in ADA Complementary Paratransit Many U.S. transit agencies continue to struggle with the quality of ADA service, the costs, and the difficulties encountered in contracting the service, which is the method of choice for a significant majority of agencies. One of the most basic policy decisions an agency must make involves whether to provide door-to-door, or only curb-to-curb service.

Mass transit mobile Wi-Fi & the public sector case study How Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority successfully implemented Wi-Fi on its light rail and bus lines

More white papers


 
DIGITAL EDITION

The full contents of Metro Magazine on your computer! The digital edition is an exact replica of the print magazine with enhanced search, multimedia and hyperlink features. View the current issue