5 Ways to Communicate with Your Riders in Real Time Without Twitter

Twitter seemed like a reliable way for transit agencies to communicate real-time information and schedule updates to their riders - until it wasn't.

Twitter seemed like a great, affordable way for transit agencies to communicate real-time information and schedule updates to their riders - until it wasn't. The volatility and frequency of changes to the platform have left many questioning the future usefulness of Twitter, currently being rebranded as X, as a place to share timely public service information.

Update: As of July 25, 2023, this article has been updated to incorporate ongoing information about the continued state of Twitter, now being rebranded as X.

Twitter Changes Derailing Transit Communications

shutterstock_762516124On April 27, 2023, the MTA announced they would no longer be sharing service alerts via Twitter due to the platform’s continued unreliable nature and push towards increased monetization. According to the MTA’s initial statement, access to Twitter through its API was involuntarily interrupted twice in the preceding two weeks, bringing into question the reliability of the platform as a way to disseminate information about service alerts to the public. As of May 2, 2023, Twitter announced they would provide their API for free to public utilities, and the MTA would continue to assess their options for service alerts going forward. 

The situation at Twitter has remained volatile since the MTA's initial concern about reliability. In early July 2023, Twitter introduced a number of puzzling updates that continued to limit the public's access to important information. The introduction of rate limits to "address extreme levels of data scraping and system manipulation" and the requirement that users be logged in to a Twitter account to view Tweets has continued to add confusion to the situation about who can access what information and when. Then in late July, Twitter announced that it will be rebranding simply as X. What the rebrand means for the platform overall is unclear, but the continued pattern of instability has shown that the platform can change direction- and the rules- on a dime.

Many agencies utilize social media platforms to communicate with riders promptly about disruptions, schedule changes, and other updates to service. But the recent changes to Twitter’s operations have pulled the veil back on just how unreliable public platforms can be. They’re great for branding and lower-stakes messaging, but when it comes to service alerts, it’s crucial to have a way to communicate with your riders that you can count on.

Solutions for Delivering Reliable Real-Time Passenger Information to Customers

In a world where information is just a click away, public transportation customers demand that you provide them with reliable data to help them plan their journey and manage their time. Onboard, in stations, and online, your real-time schedule information should be easily accessed by all riders.

  • Real-Time Prediction Engine: Your communications are only as reliable as the engine generating that information. Power your predictions with BusTime® and TAPS. By combining vehicle location and schedule data, our RTPI engine calculates the real-time arrival time of vehicles for specific stops and routes that you can share with your passengers where they are. Integration with our Disruption Management module in CleverCAD lets you better incorporate unplanned schedule changes into your service and avoid ghosting your riders.
  • Responsive Website and Mobile App: Our responsive mobile and web apps let you build out the customer-facing solution you need to keep your riders in the know. Branded specifically for your agency to provide your riders with the most up-to-date real-time information at their fingertips. Our app includes innovative features that can’t be found on a social media platform, such as “stops near me” GPS search, integrated trip planning, and interactive contact information.
  • Open Interfaces for Third-Party Access: BusTime provides open data interfaces for certain types of data for third-party access, including GTFS-RT. This open API policy gives developers access to real-time arrival information for the development of mobile apps and widgets to help you better serve your customers at little or no cost to you. Your restricted data remains confidential.
  • Signage Integrations: Real-time schedule information can be shared throughout your system, including directly to onboard LED and digital signage and station-side wayside signs. BusTime and TAPS can feed, manage, and interface with multiple sign vendors with ADA and NTCIP-compliant signage.
  • SMS Notifications: BusTime and TAPS offer enhanced SMS text messaging options, with international support for SMPP.

Explore all the features of BusTime and TAPS.

Real-time passenger information shared reliably. That’s the Power of Clever.

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