The Merritt Parkway & Social Media

Social media—all aboard!

Social media is as part of Fairfield County’s transportation network as are the trees lining the .  

Whether taking , Amtrak, or flying out of one of several nearby airports, travelers are using Twitter, Facebook and text messages with increasing frequency. Social media helps people assess everything from how accurate are arrival and departure times, the cleanliness of train cabins, and what plans are in the works for fare hikes.

A recent visit to the CT Metro North Rail Commuters Facebook page revealed lots of good advice and several curious, if somewhat unappetizing, tidbits (see post about vomit on Metro North seats). Another recent post on the FB page took Metro North’s Quiet Cars to task. Essentially, the user said that it’s not fair for those who don’t want to feel like they're sitting in an office to be relegated to a separate car.

I can relate.

Recently, I took the Amtrak from Washington, DC to . I caught the 4 p.m. Acela home. Normally I don’t splurge on the Acela, I have to say it doesn’t shave off enough time to make it worth it. But I’d already been away for a few days on a research trip, and this time I made an exception. Anyway, I was looking forward to if not quiet, at least to not feeling like I was sitting in the middle of someone’s contentious, gum smacking board room meeting either.

Alas, that was not going to happen.

Across from me three co-workers were sitting together. And they were having three separate, but very loud, conversations on three different cell phones. For some reason, these three, who by all appearances were pretty tech-savvy, seemed to have forgotten it’s not necessary to shout into a cellphone.

I tried not to glare, popped in my ear buds for some Ella Fitzgerald, Leonard Cohen and Stephan Eicher and wondered whether this was something to tweet about, post about, or just forget about. I chose the latter – until it came time to write this column. When I got home I searched on Facebook for pages devoted to Amtrak and the quiet car.

My search was not fruitful. There is a “Being Quiet in the Amtrak Quiet Car” page. Ostensibly this page will be “dedicated to those who use the Amtrak quiet car and are actually quiet.” By the number of people – 1 - who ‘Like’ the page, I’d say people either don’t like being quiet in the quiet car. The “I Love the Quiet Car” Facebook page is more promising with 72 members.

For those who travel I-95 or the Merritt Parkway or any of the other asphalt tributaries, Twitter seems the best social media tool. You can even follow your local representative to get up to date information—see @senatorduff and @tonyhwang for examples.

But if it’s complaining you want to do, the 88 people who “Like” the  “Merritt Parkway - Stay Right or Get the Hell Out of My Way!” seem to have cornered the market on highway complaint Facebook pages.

For readers simply wanting to keep abreast of funding and fare hikes or codes and construction then see TrainWeb.org on Facebook, the CT Commuter Rail Council on Twitter. Of course, there is also "Fairfield Co On The Move"—a Facebook page operated by Patch.


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