“We think it’s important to speak with one voice and that’s why we bring everything back to our Web pages, because that way we have a consistent message and consistent information.”
To resolve the multiple-page issue, Lyons says, “We told Facebook, ‘Hey, there are three pages, none of them are official pages and one of them is pornographic and needs to come down immediately.’” He says, “Facebook had it down within, I want to say 24 hours; they were right there.”
As for the other pages, DART sent messages directly to the page creators. “The others were, ‘Hey, we see you are out there,’ and we were able to get contact information and say we’ve got an official page, we would like for you to take your page down.” He says one took it down right away and the other put up a message directing its followers to the DART official page and within a month or so, the page was gone.
Sound Transit’s start in Twitter coincided with the opening of its Link light rail launch. Marketing & Creative Services Manager Tim Healy says they were concerned about crowd control because Phoenix had such long lines when they launched its system; Twitter was a potential way to establish controlled lines.
“Jaime and I were actually in the command post for the light rail launch tweeting where the lines were shorter, when entertainment was starting at each station and responding also to media inquiries at the time.” He adds, “It was kind of our first real practical use of Twitter.”
“It really showed us the power of it because we were able to get real-time updates from people who were at the event, to hear what was going on,” says Vogt. “People would mention an interesting act and we were able to mention it on our stream. It got us into good practice into how to utilize and build off hash tags and share information in real time.”
Now with Twitter, Healy says they’re finding the riders are getting alerts out to people quicker than they sometimes are. “They’ll be stuck on a train and we’ll be monitoring the Twitter traffic and they’ll give quicker, real-time information than we will from our controls.”
For DART’s Twitter feed, Lyons says it was a bit of a defensive posture for starting. “We knew people were talking about us and we could respond in that space.” He adds, “And we’ve increasingly found that it’s a good way for us to send information during service disruptions or when things are just kind of going on.”
One event they serviced was the Texas State Fair, a three-week period where 3 million people attend the fair. On top of that, a couple of the weekends are huge football games, Lyons says. “You’ll probably have 80,000 people at the game but about three times that having the experience at the fair.”
The first year they had the rail service he says they didn’t do a very good job on a number of levels, one of them being communication. “This time we redid our service to accommodate it and one of the things we did was to give updates.
“We created a subscriber base of folks who could get updates,” he explains. “We found that our subscriptions went up leading up to that and people with all kinds of interesting domain names from around Texas and Oklahoma,” he says. And then following the event, many weren’t following anymore because the game was over. “Those were really good ways of just communicating to a very specific audience, very specific information, in concise ways.” Lyons says they have found that their riders consistently want service alerts, particularly service disruptions.
TriMet also tweets about service and events roughly two to three times a week, says Blevins. He adds, “We respond to tweets at the rate of about two to three times a day.
“We use Twitter for sharing timely information and for taking the pulse of our riders by following the chatter about TriMet.”
TransLink joined on to Twitter because it also saw its customers were there. “Our philosophy’s really been that you go where your customers are,” Pabillano says. From monitoring key words and doing searches for places where people were talking about the agency, Twitter was an obvious one for it to get involved in.