June 15, 2010

Metro’s Blog Nextstop Turns One Year Old!

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Happy Anniversary Nextstop!

One year ago, Metro went live with a new experiment for Agency public communications – our transit blog Nextstop.  Four employee volunteers from the Engineering, Research, IT and Government/Community Affairs departments collaboratively created the blog and its concept using the inexpensive and accessible tools of online media to connect with other people interested in transit-related issues in St. Louis and around the country.  At the time, Metro had enacted some of the most drastic cuts in its history.  We wanted to try new and engaging ways to reach out to the public.  One year later, the public transit funding initiative in St. Louis County passed with a large majority.  We are now two weeks away from restoring some of the service lost in 2009, and more coming in August.  It’s a much better future for St. Louis public transit, but we’ve got a long way to go, and much work to do.

What we’ve learned that having Nextstop has given us more ways to reach out to riders, get feedback, talk about the importance of transit, and tell people what Metro does and why.  We’ve been using Nextstop to tell you about our projects while they happen, and hear your suggestions for changing and improving them.  We’ve been showing you how Metro receives funding and makes budgeting decisions.  We’ve solicited feedback on service changes, and taken your ideas to create a long-range transit improvement plan.  We’ve shown pictures and videos about the Metro system and the neighborhoods it feeds.  All of this only scratches the surface of how we can use the internet to improve how Metro talks to our customers and how we do business.

But we agree that one of the most significant things Nextstop has accomplished is put us online via the blog, Twitter, Facebook, and social events, where we can carry on meaningful, real-time conversations with our customers and friends, receive immediate feedback on anything we do, and provide responses when people raise concerns.  This type of engagement is making us a better transit agency.  It allows us to bring a different perspective to how we interact with the community, and it pushes us to make changes that would have positive impacts on riders and community perception.

So thank you to all readers and commentors for your interest and interaction during our first year.  We hope to continue to bring forward more information about public transit and related issues in the next year, to continue the conversation, and learn more from the community.

Thank you,

Courtney, Jennifer, Todd and Paul

Metro Lifestyle

6 thoughts on “Metro’s Blog Nextstop Turns One Year Old!”

  1. Justin says:

    Awesome work Court & all.
    How does Metro St Louis’s social media presence measure up against that of other transit agencies across the country and world?

    1. Jennifer says:

      I’ll answer that, so Courtney doesn’t have to brag on herself. When Metro started its blog, only a handful of transit agencies had any kind of social media presence. We modeled our approach after the TSA’s blog because we liked how frank they were when addressing criticisms. You can see in our blogroll (right side of the page) those sites that we took inspiration from and are aware of. People call us and ask for our policies and development procedures so they can model their web efforts after ours, and we’re always happy to share them. The more public agencies go online and really engage with their constituents, the better off everyone is!

      As far as other social media, of course TriMet in Portland has a big web presence – including a lot of independently-developed mobile web apps for use in their system. And if you do a Twitter search for “MetroLink” you’ll come up with a lot of discussion to and from a Manchester (UK) train system and the Orange County (CA) Metrolink system. (That’s why we use “#STLMetro” as a hashtag and handle, rather than just “Metro” or “MetroLink.”) Here in St. Louis, we’ve got the MetroText guys (@MetroText) who are working on a text-message interface to the Metro system.

      Other systems are starting to venture into social media in one form or another, but we’re the only system with STLTransit style!

  2. Please do videos exactly like this one for every future project. If this became agency policy, it’d enjoy it greatly. Bravo!

  3. Robert says:

    wow it only took 1 minute 55 seconds to tear down the old bridge and build a new one those guys are fast

  4. Justin Chick says:

    Thanks Jennifer,
    Next I think ya’ll gotta get some Metro STL Foursquare badges rollin! I’m not braggin or anything but I do know some ultra Metro Mayors out there…

    1. Courtney says:

      I’ve tried to contact Foursquare, but no word back yet. I’ll keep trying. You are an ultra Mayor!

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