Beset by complaints, BART’s Twitter resorts to unvarnished honesty

By Eric Sundquist

The Bay Area Rapid Transit system’s Twitter account went viral March 16 when, faced with a larger than usual number of complaints, it began responding like this:

CHRISTOPHER CHAPPEL ‎@shakatron
.@SFBART we’ve come to expect rush-hour equipment problems and train delays from you. what you’re saying is that today ends with ‘-day’

SFBART ‎@SFBART
@shakatron BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality.

A consistent refrain in the tweets was “This is our reality,” accompanied by brief—this being Twitter—descriptions of the system’s SOGR and capacity challenges.

Not all of the reaction was positive, but much of it was, and the episode provides an interesting case study for other communicators who struggle with the opposing needs to make their agencies look good but also to explain their problems.

The week after his sudden Internet fame began, BART’s Twitter writer told his story here.

Eric Sundquist is Managing Director of SSTI.