NEW YORK (WPIX) — New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which provides public transportation services for millions of riders in the NYC metro area each day, has ended its real-time service alerts on Twitter, an agency official said in a statement Thursday night.
MTA Acting Chief Customer Officer Shanifah Rieara blamed Twitter’s new policy of requiring a fee to use its application programming interface, also known as API. This interface is what allows the MTA to send out real-time service changes on the social media platform.
“The MTA does not pay tech platforms to publish service information and has built redundant tools that provide service alerts in real-time. Those include the MYmta and TrainTime apps, the MTA’s homepage at MTA.info, email alerts, and text messages. Service alerts are also available on thousands of screens in stations, on trains, and in buses,” Rieara said. “The MTA has terminated posting service information to Twitter, effective immediately, as the reliability of the platform can no longer be guaranteed.”
On Twitter, the MTA further said the platform “is no longer reliable for providing the consistent updates riders expect.”
The MTA’s access to Twitter through its API, meanwhile, has already been interrupted twice in the past two weeks, once on April 14 and again on Thursday, according to the transit agency.
Transit officials said customers will still be able to tweet at all MTA accounts and the agency will respond.
Early this year, Twitter announced it would no longer support free access to its API. Toward the end of March, the company released a new paid tier structure for the tweets, but did not specify when access to accounts would be lost. Access to Twitter’s API system could cost companies and public agencies that use it close to $500,000 per year, according to reporting by WIRED.
Twitter has long been a way for the MTA’s riders to keep track of train delays or service alerts. Other public agencies also frequently share news and weather alerts or the latest crime warnings from their local police department.
But when the Elon Musk-owned platform began stripping blue verification check marks this month from accounts that don’t pay a monthly fee, it left public agencies and other organizations around the world scrambling to figure out a way to show they are trustworthy and avoid impersonators.
New York City’s government Twitter account, for instance, pinned a tweet to its profile telling users that it is an “authentic Twitter account representing the New York City Government[.] This is the only account for @NYCGov run by New York City government.”
While Twitter is now offering gold checks for “verified organizations” and gray checks for government organizations and their affiliates, the former comes at a cost too steep to justify for many agencies.
This story comprises reporting from WPIX’s Kiran Dhillon and The Associated Press.