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Anyone who has followed me
over the years knows my passion for improving Metro-North, the commuter
railroad that connects Connecticut with NYC.
Late in 2013 I resigned from
the official CT Metro-North Commuter Council after 19 years when it became
clear that deteriorating train service was not being addressed by the railroad
or the State. My blog proclaimed
that I had “resigned, but not quit”.
In January, I launched a new
effort, The Commuter Action Group, focused on social media. I knew that 125,000 daily riders had time and
smartphones and we could harness both to affect change.
Our website (built using free software) connected commuters directly with the railroad and
their elected officials. The Twitter
feed kept them updated on
service outages and our Facebook
page provided a forum for longer
The media pick-up was
incredible. In a month we had 500 opt-in e-mails, 2,300
Twitter followers and a thousand visitors to the Facebook page. Complaints to the railroad more than doubled
and lawmakers were suddenly focused on fixing the problem.
A “Commuter Speakout” event,
which drew almost 200 angry commuters, dozens of politicians, four TV stations and
all the major state media generated coverage seen by millions.
The campaign worked. And it wasn’t expensive. Aside from my time and energy, the total
out-of-pocket cost was $12… $10 to
register the domain name and $2 to make some flyers.