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Social Media Use during Unplanned Transit Network Disruptions: A Review of Literature

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This paper explores social media's role in managing unplanned transit networks disruptions. Although literature exists more broadly on the use of social media in transit, this paper presents the first literature review in this setting. When disruptions occur, commuters require reliable, up-to-date information. Its provision reduces anxiety and allows informed choices. Social media is beneficial given it provides real-time information but it can only supplement (not replace) conventional approaches. Information reliability was critical. Research in the field of disaster management illustrates the importance of publicly contributed information. Known as “crowdsourcing”, it is part of the emerging field of crisis informatics which for the first time was linked to unplanned transit disruption management. The results highlight that social media's real-time nature can reduce disrupted travel demand; however, its utilisation can be resource-intensive. A framework presented illustrates how social media utilisation varies according to the operational characteristics of a disrupted network. Social media use as an information delivery tool is still in its infancy and an unwillingness to embrace it is an impediment to sustained growth. Crowdsourcing is one approach that could resolve the issue of transit agency resourcing whilst satisfying the increased demand and expectation for real-time information.
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Keywords: communication; public transport; real-time information; social media and crowdsourcing; transit disruptions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Civil Engineering, Public Transport Research Group, Institute of Transport Studies, Monash University, Building 60, Clayton, Victoria, 3800, Australia

Publication date: July 4, 2014

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