Twitter and Washington, D.C.’s Metro transit system would seem to be made for each other. Metro customers need real-time status information, especially given the system’s recent bout of large and small service outages. And for anyone with a smartphone, Twitter is simpler and cheaper than the text message alert system Metro has offered from some time.
Unfortunately, Metro’s has turned its Twitter status reports into a joke. The information Metro is sending out through the Twitter API is more often than not gibberish. Consider this sadly typical Tweet, sent out twice, 23 minutes apart: “No Line: Due to a power outage, all of the station’s entrance escalators are out of service. The elevator is operational. The station remain” Not knowing which of Metro’s 86 stations was affected, or even what line it was on, rendered the the “information” useless.
Message to any business of government service considering automated tweets: It’s a great way to disseminate information quickly and broadly, but take the time to do it right or you will end up a laughingstock.
UPDATE: A reader pointed out that I neglected to link to Metro;s Twitter account. It’s @metroopensdoors.