BART Twitter guy: Why I went ‘rogue’

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Have you ever wished that you said exactly what’s on your mind at work?

During last week’s BART meltdown, the man running the BART Twitter account gained national attention by tweeting some honest truth bombs about transit. This week on Popular Mechanics, Taylor Huckaby, the spokesperson tweeting that day (who has our standing invitation to tater tots and whiskey at Bender’s forever), wrote about what was going through his mind that night:

Somewhere along the way, I replied to a frustrated passenger with what I thought was a fairly standard response, one we had used elsewhere: BART was built to transport far fewer people, much of the system has reached the end of its useful life, and this is the reality we face.

The response went viral, as sites like Gizmodo marveled at a government agency being frank and honest on social media and posted several of my replies to angry riders. Now, I’m hoping this episode sparks a much-needed national conversation about the stark reality of America’s deteriorated railways, roads, bridges, airports, sewer systems and electrical grid. This shouldn’t be a blame game. This is about facing deficiencies, having a frank conversation about them, and making our government better. There’s no purer distillation of democracy’s mission than this, but even so, it has proven tremendously difficult to articulate how to fix mass transit in America.

As someone who sees a lot of tweets about public transit—and by “a lot,” I mean dozens every hour as we scour the Twitter universe to find the best ones for @munidiaries and @bartdiaries—I can completely sympathize with Huckaby’s sentiment. It’s always easier to complain than to learn about what it takes to actually improve public transit. “Public funding doesn’t just appear like freshly fallen snow,” Huckaby says in his essay.

PS: Here are three things we should know before bitching about Muni. Unless you’re going to bitch about Muni in a hilarious way, in which case, we will retweet you immediately!

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