Tag Archives: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Managing Public Expectations….or not.

Post by: Kim Stephens

English: Washington, DC Metro logo

I live in the DC corridor and therefore I follow the WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) social media accounts. The authority has great social presence and I  find their Twitter feed especially useful. I look to them to see, for example, why I’m standing on a platform with no train for 20 minutes. More often than not, they will have posted the problem(s) that caused the delay.

Watching a conversation that took place with WMATA the other day, however, made me re-evaluate some of my own advice. I have often stated that it is important to communicate with the public how you will be using social networks in order to manage their expectations. For example, “This account is not monitored 24/7.”  The public, however, pushed back to WMATA for saying almost this exact statement.   I captured the conversation below.  They simply stated:

I’m not sure why WMATA said to report emergencies to that long number versus 911. Whatever the case, the idea that the account was not being monitored 24/7 was astounding to some:

The last exchange reminds me that exclamation points can demonstrate that someone is excited, enthusiast or sarcastic…I’m going with the last choice. Nonetheless, this exchange makes me a bit nervous. Is a 24/7 monitored social media presence now something the public will demand, especially for public safety organizations? If not today, will this be a demand in the near future? What are your thoughts?

Update: @WMATA responded to this post via Twitter. I really appreciate their replies!

For those readers that do not live in the DC area, the MTPD is the Metro Transit Police and they “have tri-state jurisdiction with responsibility for a variety of law enforcement and public safety functions in transit facilities throughout the Washington, DC Metropolitan area… MTPD police officers have jurisdiction and arrest powers throughout the 1,500 square mile Transit Zone that includes Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia for crimes that occur in or against Transit Authority facilities. It is the only tri-jurisdictional police agency in the country and serves a population of 3.2 million.”