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.
Courtney, Jennifer, Todd and Paul