Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Commuter Rail operating partner Keolis launch the “Why Go Green with Purple Sweepstakes?” Also, North Carolina’s intercity passenger rail service breaks 2019 ridership record; and New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) temporarily loses the ability to post real-time subway, commuter rail and bus service alerts via Twitter, and may soon have to pay for that feature.
MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services on April 17 reported adding the “Why Go Green with Purple Sweepstakes?” to its larger “Go Green with Purple” campaign to educate the public about the environmental benefits of taking Commuter Rail vs. driving alone. According to the partners, two-thirds of carbon emissions from Massachusetts come from personal vehicle use.
Legal residents of Massachusetts and Rhode Island can enter the sweepstakes, which runs from April 17 to April 30, by submitting their email addresses at mbta.com/gogreen; providing reasons why they “Go Green” by using MBTA transit service, such as “to save emissions” or “to reduce traffic”; and sending a photo of their MBTA or MBTA Commuter Rail ride receipts or pictures of their valid passes for travel during Earth Month (April 1-April 30, 2023).
All participants who enter will receive a randomly selected Commuter Rail-branded “eco-friendly” give-away item, according to MBTA and Keolis. The grand prize is a Commuter Rail, Zone 10 Monthly Pass, worth $426.
“Public transportation is one of the most effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint, improving air quality for a more sustainable and healthy living environment for generations to come,” MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng said.
“Traffic is back to pre-pandemic levels and taking the Commuter Rail is a reliable and green alternative to driving alone,” Keolis Commuter Services CEO Abdellah Chajai said. “If you drive alone to work, switching to the Commuter Rail for just two of those round trips a week will save nearly 3,000 pounds in CO2 emissions. Please protect our future by contributing to the fight against climate change.”
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) on April 14 reported achieving record first-quarter 2023 ridership for NC By Train intercity passenger service—comprising the Amtrak Carolinian and Piedmont trains. The trains carried 135,000-plus riders, up more than 30% from the same period in 2019 (pre-pandemic) and up more than 50% from the same period in 2022.
“Last year we had the highest ridership that we’ve ever had in our 32-year history of providing intercity railroad service here in North Carolina,” NCDOT Rail Division Director Jason Orthner said. “We are starting out very well for another record year for ridership on NC By Train.”
The New York MTA was unable to post via Twitter real-time updates for subway, commuter rail and bus service late on April 14 “due to what it described as ‘an API issue,” The New York Post reported on April 17. The issue was resolved early on April 15. MTA tweeted that its “access to the Twitter API has been unsuspended,” according to the newspaper, which explained that the issue was with an application programming interface (API), “a tool allowing multiple computer applications to talk with each other—in this case, in the form of updates on the status of key public transportation systems.”
According to The Post, Elon Musk “announced in February that Twitter planned to begin charging accounts for access to its API system. The MTA told Bloomberg it was informed that paid service would take effect by the end of March—though the agency claims it was not given a specific date for when it could lose access.”
The Post reported that MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said a statement obtained by Bloomberg that “The MTA has never paid Twitter to communicate travel information to the public and will have no comment on speculation about why Twitter temporarily stopped—and rapidly reinstated—that flow during the weekend.”
According to The Post, Wired last month reported that API access through Twitter’s planned “‘enterprise packages’ for developer tools” would cost at least $42,000 per month.
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) experienced a similar loss on April 14, tweeting that “it had received an email from Twitter noting it was ‘suspended from accessing its Twitter API,” according to The Post, which said BART also tweeted: “‘Twitter has been our most successful social platform. We have far more followers here than anywhere. We’ve gone viral many times for support of public transit and met incredible riders here. As we consider other platforms, we can’t help but feel disappointed by Twitter’s decision.’” BART access was also reinstated. The Post reported that it has asked Twitter and MTA for comment.