Now and then Twitter pops up something like this, from someone called @wmataplusside.
In a local ecosystem dominated by colorful critical voices (including @FixWMATA, @dcmetrosucks, @unsuckdcmetro, and my personal favorite moniker, @MedievalMetro), @wmataplusside's niche is to offer all good news:
WMATA, the regional transit agency of the Washington DC region, has a problem that afflicts almost all transit agencies: Negative feedback is constant, positive feedback is rare. Transit is an incredibly visible service; when something goes wrong -- whether in management or operations -- there's no concealing it. Media feed on negativity, so that's what spreads, and what returns amplified to the agency staff.
Experienced transit staff learn to "control" for the negativity. I often tell client agencies that if the feedback on a service proposal is only 75% negative, as opposed to, say, 95%, then that's actually pretty positive. Negatively-impacted customers respond in much greater numbers, and usually much more belligerently, than positively-impacted customers, so it's unfair to count comments as though they were votes. The same is generally true of operations; commendations of good work from customers are rare, because few bother to comment in that situation. while lacerating feedback from angry customers is routine.
This is why folks like @wmataplusside are doing someting important. When not offering his/her own positive feedback, @wmataplusside is harvesting good news from all over the local Twitterverse, and retweeting it, amplified. If you want one feed of all the good news about WMATA (and I'm sure the agency does), this is it:
@jamdizzle So pressed with @wmata! Didn't really believe they'd put the money the bus ate on my SmarTrip and certainly not within a few hours!
@jeditrainee: Love the new bus bays at Seven Corners. Going through there used to be a nightmare. #wmata
@HS1979: On a shuttle. Watched WMATA employee explain to driver how 2 help one confused young passenger. "Take care of her, ok?" IMMD
@mindymoretti: $13 cab ride vs. $1.50 bus ride. Snarly cab driver vs. uber friendly bus driver. Well played @wmata well played.
@csimpson82: My orange line train driver would have an AMAZING career in radio! Excellent job today with the stations!
@zebrafinch: Cheers, kudos to DC Metro staff Ms. Taylor (Woodley/Zoo) & Gregory (White Flint) for ALWAYS BEING HELPFUL & on task! TY! @wmata #WMATA
@zebrafinch: New and cheery lighting at formerly dark Metro station. Good! #WMATA http://twitpic.com/9e1yv5
@chrispulaski: With all my negative #wmata tweets, I have to say that more often than not, the metro workers I encounter are wonderful people.
They don't have to be specific complimnents. Expressions of sheer passion are also passed on:
@Wmataplusside also supports by being useful, extending the agency's eyes:
The user @wmataplusside took a while to track down, but here's his or her self-description.
Unrelated with WMATA, just a Marylander who grew up with the Green Line. Not really much about me. A suburbanite, born in Virginia, raised in Maryland. Ride Monday through Friday and weekends when I need to go into the city. Been riding all my life, and it's really not as sorry a state of affairs as others make it out to be.
It moves people back and forth without serious incidents being commonplace. Sure, incidents may occur from time to time, but it's not nearly as bad as the Beltway. If riding Metro sounded like listening to a bad traffic report, I could understand relentlessly hating on it.
Started the feed because I couldn't understand why so many were dedicated to being negative about it, and none positive. Goal was an outlet for compliments and comments as a means of hopefully encouraging more positive behavior by wmata employees. Answer rider questions and tweet about my experiences on rails and bus, pass along information about delays when I'm in them. Just want to provide a contrast to all of the pessimism, and another side to the #wmata conversation.
Or as he put it in a tweet:
@wmataplusside: I may look like the eternal optimist, but I'm more normal than it seems. And after reading twitter daily, more lucky than most.
If nobody is aggregating positive feedback for your city's transit system, maybe you should start! Positive feedback can guide an agency at least as well as the negative can. Probably better.