Hurricane Sandy Path Updates: Twitter Helps People Dodge the Dangers of the Super Storm

The website for New York’s Mass Transit Authority hasn't changed much since yesterday’s announcement that all public transit will be shut down until further notice due to the storm. Service statuses for various train and bus lines have read “Suspended” in full-stop red all day. 

Head on over to their Twitter account however, and you’ll get up-to-the-minute breaking news like this:

 

For any of the Cross Bay Bridge’s 21,240 daily commuters, that’s important information to have — now. The 4:30 p.m. Cross Bay closing is listed at the very bottom of the home page on the MTA site, and is easy to miss for any who neglect to scroll to the end. But the Twitter account jumped on the mayor’s post, re-tweeted, and pushed that nugget of information out exactly when people needed to take notice.

And take notice they have. The MTA’s Twitter account has gained over 450 followers in the last three hours, and this is only day one of the storm. Savvy travelers already turn to airport Twitter feeds to check flight delays and cancellations, instead of relying slower traditional routes. Now, social media is also helping to improve public safety.

Crowd sourcing is also turning regular citizens into public servants when they re-tweet vital storm safety information. An earlier notice about the Throgs Neck, Bronx Whitestone, Marine Parkway, Henry Hudson, Verrazano Narrows and RFK bridges immediately got 63 re-tweets. 

The forum is also fostering discussion between New Yorkers and the Transit Authority on everything from transport worker overtime pay to flood prevention tips. Town Hall discussions are happening 24-7 from our living rooms.

Armed with bottled water and and smartphones, we're all going to be alright. 

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Marni Chan

Marni has a M.A. from NYU's Arthur Carter Journalism Institute's Cultural Reporting and Criticism Program, where she studied under Susie Linfield, Katie Roiphe, and Dennis Lim. She also has a B.A. in history and politics from Pomona College. Marni has previously written for Forbes, AOL, and Conde Nast Traveler.

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