BART is on Twitter, a social networking and microblogging service that lets users exchange short text updates known as "tweets" -- messages of 140 characters or fewer. We began our Twitter feed in July 2008 as another channel for communicating with our customers, in connection with a redesign of our website that provided more interactivity and real-time information.
How we use Twitter will evolve in response to the feedback we receive from customers. In general, you can expect to see news of general interest about BART and about new content on our website, "heard and seen on BART"-type color from our commutes, and shared or "retweeted" posts from other Twitter users of interest to the wider community of BART riders.
If you're already using Twitter, just go to www.twitter.com/SFBART and follow us to get our updates. You can find out more about Twitter and how to sign up at http://www.twitter.com/.
Here are some answers to other frequently asked questions about our Twitter feed:
Q. Can I use the Twitter feed to tell you about a problem I am having with BART?
A. For individual problems, we will probably ask you to report your problem to us in an e-mail using our e-mail comment form. This gets your issue directly to those at the website or in the customer service department who have the expertise to deal with it, and gets the issue into our tracking system so we can look for patterns affecting many people. For general questions with answers that may be of interest to other users, we may "retweet" your message with a link to where you can find the information on our website.
Q. Why aren't there updates on BART's Twitter feed on the weekend or late at night?
A. Our staffing levels permit us to tend to the feed primarily during daytime weekday hours. We catch up on weekend tweets on Monday.
Q. Why don't you have official service advisories in the BART Twitter feed?
A. We are not currently routing automated service advisory messages to the Twitter feed for a couple of reasons. First, we want official service advisories to be on a reliably stable platform and we offer you many ways to get them, such as:
- Our website at www.bart.gov/advisories
- Our wireless site at www.bart.gov/wireless
- Our RSS feed; sign up at www.bart.gov/rss
- Our e-mail alerts; sign up at www.bart.gov/alerts
Twitter is a rapidly growing service that experiences not-infrequent outages due to overcapacity (a phenomenon familiar to users who get the "failwhale" -- a whimsical cartoon image of a whale being lifted by birds -- when Twitter is down. You can see the failwhale on the website of Yiying Lu, the artist who created it.).
Second, the input we've heard most frequently from our Twitter followers is that they prefer the conversational tone of human-generated messages and don't want their feeds filled up with automated messages. If that changes we may add service advisories in the future.
Q. I still don't understand what Twitter is. Can you explain?
A. It's hard to grasp the concept of Twitter by looking at a single person or organization's feed in isolation, or starting one up yourself without any updates or followers/followees. If you begin to send tweets, and to follow friends or organizations you are interested in, you'll quickly get the hang of it.