17 April 2012

Socially Aware

social networking

Both Citybus and First make good use of the social networking services Facebook and Twitter. When used correctly they can be very useful tools for bus companies to get their messages across direct to passengers and also allow passengers speak direct to them. However there can also be a downside to these sites as was demonstrated by this simple statement made by First last week:

Today (Thursday 12 April) a story about First, and some of its employees, has appeared in a local paper in Cornwall. The story relates to some things that were posted on this facebook page over the past few weeks. While the comments were not made officially by First (and the company in no way endorses what was said), the comments appear to have been in-directly linked to the company. As soon as we saw the comments they were removed by our site administrators. We do, however recognise that some customers may have seen them and for this reason we would like to offer our sincere apologies for any offence caused. We are now investigating this matter. We would ask that no one posts any comments in relation to this status update - the matter is sensitive and to avoid further issues all posts in relation to this one will be deleted by the site administrators (regardless of content).


It was indeed reported in Cornwall:

SEVERAL First Bus staff have been suspended after swearing and insults about pensioners' complaints were posted on Facebook. It is understood comments were made by at least one worker from the Helston area from where services are run to Falmouth as well as Camborne, Penzance, Truro and the Lizard. The comments, including alleged swearing by a supervisor, have sparked an investigation. They were part of a Facebook discussion citing "old folk" moaning about a 40p fare hike. Robbie Lamerton, First in Devon and Cornwall general manager, told the West Briton: "We are deeply concerned and have launched an investigation, suspending several staff members pending the outcome. We have also been in touch with those customers who contacted us to offer our sincere apologies for any offence that was caused."  This is Cornwall

It even got reported in the Daily Mail complete with a photo off passengers boarding an Arriva minibus!

This story has attracted a lot of comment, much of it suggesting its unfair to the staff under investigation as they should have free speech however as one person comments

“If they made abusive comments about pensioners as passengers and were identifiable as bus company staff then they are bringing the service into disrepute. In the same way there have been a number of investigations of things police officers have ill-advisedly written on social media.”

This last point is key to First’s handling of this whole saga. If you identify yourself as working for a bus company, or indeed any other organisation and then make comments on a public forum like Facebook or Twitter you open yourself up to disciplinary action.

I have worked in the hospital for thirty years. I could tell some great stories of what goes on behind the scenes. As long as I still work for them, I certainly wont be sharing these stories on Facebook or Twitter!

Of course its not just staff who can get themselves into trouble on social networking sites. A Transport of Delight has a nice article looking at how Virgin Rail dealt with a passenger tweeting how he was evading fare collection which is worth a quick read.

Image by FindYourSearch

Elsewhere on the net

  • With many of Hoeford's Darts about to be withdrawn in the next couple of weeks, I thought this week's Sunday Lost Scenes would look at a few images of those Darts in service. Southern England Bus Scene
  • The Snap on Sunday was an outright obvious one for me this week, depicted is the glorious beast that is D367 JJD playing her trade on the 20 to Marton Mere in Blackpool PTOTPA
  • Back in 1965 Crosville launched a lengthy service along the north Wales coast, from Chester right out to Caernarfon under the name Cymru Coastliner.. Transport Illustrated
  • he original construction simply fell down immediately after construction and, being a good egg and British to the core, Thomas rebuilt it at his own expense. Public Transport Experience
  • Is it me? Am I missing something? Surely the intention of the new Gosport to Fareham busway, whose weekday services launch in exactly one week’s time, is to speed things up, not slow them down. Omnibuses

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