Poll: multiple Twitter accounts for service updates?

Yesterday we told you how to sign up for text message service alerts from Metro’s Twitter account @MetroLAalerts.

Commenter B. Kuo brought up an idea – something that some at Metro have been kicking around for a while – suggesting that Metro should have multiple service alert Twitter accounts so that riders can choose to follow only the lines that matter to them. It’s a good idea, especially if you’ve hooked your phone up to Twitter – you probably don’t care to be text messaged regarding a line you don’t ride.

A few transit agencies do this very thing – locally there’s Metrolink which has unique Twitter accounts for each of its seven commuter lines. On a larger scale there’s the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). They have Twitter accounts for each rail line (eight in total) and one catch-all account for CTA buses. Metro would probably do something similar to this.

The @CTAtweet account, from a third party, consolidates all of CTA’s various Twitter accounts into one account. One thing to note: despite the size of the CTA’s system, their Twitter accounts have a very small number of followers, and the bus alerts Twitter hasn’t been updated since July 6th.

Do you think Metro should offer multiple service alert Twitter accounts? Would you actually use them? Keep in mind that Metro’s Twitter initiative is still a work in progress – and most Twitter updates are handled by a Metro planner who’s passionate about improving the experience for riders but might not have to time to manage updating multiple accounts.

Take the poll and share your thoughts in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Poll: multiple Twitter accounts for service updates?

  1. Duh!

    Yes, each line needs its own Twitter account. Why hasn’t this occurred yet?

    I use twitter, but stopped following metroalerts because I received too too many messages. I am only interested in MY line… and not a bus line or a rail line that I don’t use.

    But, I understand if you choose not to have different twitter accounts for each line. I mean, not THAT many people follow in any respectable number that is comparable to ridership. So, is doing this even cost effective? Is it unfair to non-twitter followers that their taxpayer dollars are going toward supporting this… mmm… fad.

  2. Cost-effectiveness doesn’t seem to be a problem as it’s practically free to do the notifications via Twitter/SMS. However, it seems if the goal is to have an effective SMS notification program via Twitter, then it may require a full-time staffer. If personnel cost is a concern, then perhaps an intern should be considered.

    Dedicated Twitter accounts for each line would be awesome for a patron, but a drag for Metro staff to update, I would imagine. As a pilot programme, starting off with the rail lines would be a good place to start. Nice and manageable.

    SMS-direct notification (without having to use a third-party system, i.e. Twitter) seems like a better choice only if Metro had a dedicated subscription service. That way a patron can SMS the server requesting only the routes/lines they’re interested.

    Here’s an example:
    Step 1: Text message “GO” to 63876 (METRO) to begin subscription.
    Step 2: To follow a specific line text “ADD BUS [insert number here]” or “ADD LINE [insert rail colour here]”

    I will now submit my application for intern. :-P

  3. Well, since Twitter is free, and it would be presumably the same person updating it, whether there are 2 or 20, I don’t see the harm.

    Maybe Metro could also experiment with creating regional twitter accounts, eg. one for alerts/detours in the Valley, one for Downtown, etc.

  4. It seems as though having a single account for various lines could get a little cumbersome; I can forsee a logistical nightmare for the person responsible for updating Metro riders.

    Why not create a rail account and bus account and use hashtags for the separate lines (e.g., #MBL or #4 for the Blue Line and bus line 4, respectively)? That way, at least, people with phone apps such as TweetDeck can follow the lines they want. (I realize this is also flawed being that Twitter itself doesn’t allow you to follow hashtags per se.)

    I agree with Elvi on her solution but I can see that costing Metro a lot, too.

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