Code for Boston to revive MBTA Alerts! Twitter account

T customers can stay up to date with a rogue MBTA Twitter alert account.
T customers can stay up to date with a rogue MBTA Twitter alert account. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

T customers who depended on the unofficial MBTA Alerts! Twitter account before it shut down can rejoice, because Code for Boston is stepping up to revive it.  

Fred LeBlanc, an Amesbury resident and former “angry commuter,” started @mbta_alerts in 2009 to keep T riders informed about delays. However, to the dismay of many, he announced last week that it was shutting down.

Matt Cloyd of Code for Boston said it seemed unfortunate to leave thousands of followers stranded, so he wanted to pick up where LeBlanc left off.

“I know how valuable it is to be aware of how the T is running,” Cloyd said. “When I told my friends the (MBTA Alerts!) account was shutting down, they were really upset. They depended on the account all the time.”

LeBlanc decided to phase out the account due to the MBTA’s new T-Alerts system, which made it impossible to auto-tweet service updates because they were too long. Cloyd’s system fixes that bug.

Cloyd said the alerts will hash tag certain routes, and will be “Twitter friendly.” The alerts should start rolling in by the end of the month.

The project is fits well with Code for Boston‘s mission to help better communities through the use of technology. The volunteer group is comprised of roughly 200 activists, developers, designers, urban planners, and community leaders who work with local governments to build open-source civic apps, open public data sources, and generally help to leverage technology for use in the public sphere.

Harlan Weber, the local “Brigade Captain,” told Metro that the city is a perfect place for a Code for Boston chapter.

“We have a huge technological base of designers and entrepreneurial thinkers who can bring their skills from the private sector to help make government better,” said Weber. “The (@mbta_alerts account) seemed like a great opportunity for us to provide a service to the community. People rely on it everyday.”

The local chapter opened in October 2012.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


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