Twitter Canada examines how 20 cities use platform for public transit service

Click to play video: 'A look at how different cities use Twitter for public transit service' A look at how different cities use Twitter for public transit service
WATCH ABOVE: Keeping an eye on traffic and delays are big topics on Twitter. Emily Mertz tells us about how Twitter Canada has been looking at how public transit service accounts are used in different cities. – Aug 27, 2019

Twitter Canada has been closely following how the transit systems of the country’s 20 largest municipalities use the social media site and released some findings Tuesday.

According to the company’s head of communications, sharing public transit details and updates on any potential route changes or delays is a perfect fit for the platform.

“When you’re looking for real-time information and you’re living in a big city and you’re relying on transit, something like Twitter and public transportation is tailor made,” Cam Gordon told Global News.

READ MORE: Transit satisfaction still pretty good but declining among Edmonton riders

Traffic is one of the use cases of Twitter they see most consistently every day. Twitter Canada looked at those major markets three years ago and just completed another deep dive on how different cities use the social medium and how much their audiences have grown.

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For instance, the Edmonton Transit Service joined Twitter as @takeETSalert in April 2011. It has about 8,200 followers. Over the last three years, the number of followers it has increased by 115 per cent.

“In the last three years, the following of your local transit provider, ETS, has actually doubled during that time,” Gordon said.

“It’s interesting even though Twitter’s been around for 13, 14 years now, you’re still seeing this inflow of new people using it and using it for different reasons.”

Watch below (Sept. 8, 2017): Edmonton is one of three Canadian cities to have their transit information added to Apple Maps app. As Emily Mertz explains, it’s thanks to Open Data.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton transit added to Apple Maps' Edmonton transit added to Apple Maps
Edmonton transit added to Apple Maps – Sep 8, 2017

Like most major cities, the peaks in conversation around Edmonton transit occur during morning and evening rush hours.

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“The busiest days were ether Thursday or Friday of tweets mentioning the local public transit handle… In Edmonton, the busiest day of the week was Friday and between 4 and 5 p.m. you saw the most people tweeting about the transit account,” Gordon said.

“You can, in your mind, think about what type of tweets those are. Those are people just trying to get home, maybe looking for information, perhaps expressing frustration.”

Twitter Canada found local transit organizations use the platform in different ways — some prioritize scheduling changes and alerts, while others use it more as an interactive platform and customer service tool.

Twitter noticed several transit accounts posting hours during which the account is monitored right at the top of the profile.

On that front, many transit systems’ accounts have set their Direct Messaging function as open, meaning the accounts don’t need to follow one another in order to communicate via direct message. DMs are not open for TakeETSalert, however.

READ MORE: Edmonton bus driver praised for helping elderly passenger with groceries

“ETS only follows one account and that’s the City of Edmonton,” Gordon pointed out, “versus in other cities, you see the local transit providers will follow a wide range of accounts. Again, it’s really just a local preference and how they manage those — whether they’re putting hours, open DMs, if they’re following other people, how often they’re tweeting — it’s really the cadence of how it’s used in the city and how it’s determined by the teams around those accounts.”

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Calgary Transit, @calgarytransit, joined Twitter in March 2009. It has about 123,000 followers. Over the last three years, the number of followers it has increased by 71 per cent.

Calgary Transit has sent about 208,000 tweets while Edmonton Transit has sent about 11,100.

Out of all the Canadian transit accounts Twitter Canada looked at, the Toronto Transit Commission has the most followers.

Watch below (Oct. 25, 2016): Waiting for the bus and not knowing when it will come can be a major source of frustration in Edmonton. That is now a thing of the past for Edmonton Transit. Vinesh Pratap reports.

Click to play video: 'New Edmonton bus app aims to put an end to common complaint' New Edmonton bus app aims to put an end to common complaint
New Edmonton bus app aims to put an end to common complaint – Oct 25, 2016

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