CTA late to social media but performing like a pro

[flickr]photo:6596461901[/flickr]

Logan Square, looking northwest, taken October 11, 1968, during construction that moved the Northwest L underground. It previously terminated at Kedzie and Logan Boulevard.

The Chicago Transit Authority didn’t launch their Twitter account and page on Facebook until November 1 this year, but as of this writing has 5,008 followers on Twitter, and 4,972 likes on Facebook. I wrote the day after launch that there was “latent demand” for these methods of communication, and that CTA provides myriad other tools for getting information.

The organization is doing a good job managing its accounts: it posts timely service disruption information, responds to visitor comments, and shares links to interesting and relevant news or multimedia.

In comparison, BART (for Bay Area Rapid Transit in the San Francisco Bay Area) started its social media presence much earlier. In June 2009, they received an award for excellence in digital marketing. Maybe this delay was where CTA learned from the mistakes and successes of its peers.

The CTA also has a Flickr profile, one of the earliest social networks, and made its first post there in April 2010. The image at the top of this article is a scan from the historical photo archives that the CTA posted to Flickr. Passengers who need specific complaints or comments addressed should continue sending them to feedback@transitchicago.com or calling customer service – I discourage people from using these sites as a place to share impertinent grievances*. You will get a response – really, they’ve responded to me every time I point out that a bus’s bike rack needs maintenance or a bus operator was using their cellphone.

*I’ve noticed that many people comment on the CTA’s Facebook page about service cuts, fare raises, and layoffs. As the CTA agency is a State of Illinois corporation, there are better and more effective channels for sharing your opinions and ideas on these topics. For example, one can testify at a CTA hearing, but more importantly concerned transit users can advocate for good transit by contacting local and state legislators.

Here’s the view of the Logan Square elevated station now, from Bing Maps bird’s eye view. A bank parking lot and homes from a completely different era than those across the street now take the place of the yard.

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