Twitter is now essential for public transport - but that wasn’t always the case

25 Jul

by brendan-nelson 25.07.12

Lots of things have changed since 2005, not least of which is how important Twitter has become in the world of public transport. We take a look back to 2009 when we helped First Capital Connect launch the UK’s first Twitter-powered alerts service.

 

If you’ve been living under a rock since 4th July 2005 you need to catch up on a few things. The iPhone exists. The credit crunch happened. And London is hosting the Olympics.

And if you’ve been living under a rock in London since 2005, that last fact may make you want to crawl back under it for the next couple of months because, as the authorities are constantly reminding us, the Olympics is not going to be pretty. The tube will be packed. Trains will be heaving. The roads will be jammed. 

These warnings of transport chaos have been coming in from all directions - posters, TV ads, recordings of the Mayor’s voice blaring from speakers on public transport. But if you’re a long-term rock-dweller you might be surprised at the role social media is playing too.

London paper Metro (yes, rock-dwellers, the Metro survived) ran this piece yesterday about the many ways TfL is using Twitter. Londoners can follow three accounts - @TfLTrafficNews, @TfLTravelAlerts and @GAOTG - to get updates on the transport situation during the Olympics.

Those of you who have been living under rocks can be forgiven for wondering what exactly Twitter is. After all it wasn’t very long ago that Twitter was still a largely obscure and underexploited communications tool, and it’s only in the last few years that it has “gone mainstream”. Today every transport company has a Twitter presence which is used to exchange information with commuters in real time.

In fact, it was just over three years ago that our client First Capital Connect became the first train operator to get into Twitter in a big way, with the launch of its Twitter-based alerts service in June 2009:

Notice how press coverage of the First Capital Connect launch in 2009 had to describe Twitter in basic terms but yesterday’s Metro article just throws @usernames out willy-nilly, expecting readers to know exactly what they mean. It shows just how far things have come. 

Back in 2009 we knew that Twitter was going to become an essential tool for commuters, and when we shared our vision with First Capital Connect they got it too. Although looking back it seems like a no-brainer that a train company should tweet, at the time it was a move that only forward-looking organisations were prepared to make. 

We consider ourselves lucky to be working with organisations like that, both then and now; at least that’s one thing that hasn’t changed since 2005.

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Tags: twitter transport social media

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