BART's twitter manager drops truth-bombs, world cheers

On Wednesday night, the person who runs the Twitter feed for San Francisco's BART system began answering riders' frustrated tweets with frank, honest statements that eschewed the bland "thank you for your feedback" and the chipper "we're working on it!" norms of corporate social media in favor of brutally honest assessments of the sorry state of the system, starting with, "BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality."

BART's twitter manager, Taylor Huckabee (who tweets in his personal capacity as @iwriterealgood) turned #thisisourreality into a hashtag, and continued to answer (and sometimes rebut) riders with open, truthful statements about the state of BART, a cash-starved piece of critical infrastructure in a city that's bursting at its seams.

Public reaction has been gratifyingly sympathetic: it turns out that riders and customers don't want to be spoon-fed bland reassurances; they want to know what is going on, where the problems lie, who is at fault, and what can be done about it.

There's a lesson here for other businesses.

I Would Like to Buy a Drink for the Poor Soul Who Ran the San Francisco BART Twitter Account Last Night [Sophie Kleeman/Gizmodo]

Notable Replies

  1. So refreshing to see social media used to democratically talk about a shared public problem. What a great way to start a dialogue and align to more quickly assess, staff and accelerate the fixes.

  2. The decrepitude of BART is just one example of our tax dollars not being put to the right kind of work. Let's hope that this results in a bit of political change.

  3. Ahh but see the problem is, many of those high-income individuals do not make use of BART. Anyone who is anyone drives a Tesla. Public transit is for the peasants.

  4. BART is still a pretty good example of successful public transit, I used to take it to work every day. It just needs to be properly funded, maintained and expanded to meet modern-day demands.

  5. Ratel says:

    This is really, really important. BART is not San Francisco's public transit system. MUNI is San Francisco's public transit system.

    The acronym is "Bay Area Rapid Transit". Of the 44 stations, 8 are within SF city limits. BART's biggest problem in modernizing isn't San Francisco (which, for all its faults, would likely work to make it happen, look at the MUNI Chinatown expansion). The problem is the huge number of smaller cash-strapped (but also ego-bound) municipalities that it runs through. It's pretty much impossible to do anything in the Bay Area as complex as, say, naming a bridge that spans two political districts.

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