PSTA to tweet bus delays and other mishaps

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The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority launched a new twitter account today that will help riders navigate the system by updating them with info on route changes, detours and delays.

Or @PSTAalerts could just give No Tax for Tracks another opportunity to criticize the transit agency as utterly broken. Whichever.

The new twitter account already has 131 followers who have already been informed of several problems. A bus leaving Williams Park in downtown St. Pete broke down this afternoon around 3:30. The tweet indicates that a replacement bus was dispatched, but would be late.

A route in downtown Clearwater was detoured, apparently. And over the weekend, the number 52 out of Williams Park broke down leaving riders stranded until the early evening on Saturday.

So, it seems like a twitter feed full of criticism-worthy updates, but things break and buses get delayed and there’s not a lot that can be done to make that never happen. This new tool is intended to give PSTA users easy access to information that may affect their commutes.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to not only keep PSTA’s riders making 14.5 million annual boardings moving efficiently, but also to give the most up-to-date transit information possible,” PSTA Chief Operating Officer James Bradford said in a statement. “@PSTAAlerts and our creative social media usage are our latest commitments to the exceptional customer service and outstanding performance our riders expect.”

The idea came out of a social media roundtable discussion during the American Public Transit Association Marketing and Communications Conference in New Orleans earlier this year. The idea was to keep PSTA users in the loop on what was happening on the agency’s nearly 40 routes and fleet of more than 200 vehicles.

The first tweet went out on July 22. Updates on detours and breakdowns have since trickled in even before today’s official launch. The feed will be continuously updated by PSTA customer service representatives who received special training on the ways of tweeting.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.