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Purdue Study On CTA Tweets Most Obvious Study Ever

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 7, 2012 3:10PM


This is the age of Twitter and, more than ever, people are taking to the messaging service to voice their pleasures and dislikes. In the case of the Chicago Transit Authority. Search the hashtag #cta and one can scroll for a while before finding a positive tweet about bus or rail service.

Three Purdue researchers theorized that transit systems across the country could learn a lot from negative tweets and set out to chart the levels of positive and negative tweets about CTA. They presented their findings at the annual Transportation Research Board conference in Washington yesterday.

Using publicly time-stamped tweets and geographic location data, Craig Collins, Samiul Hasan, and Satish Ukkusuri ran their findings across a "sentiment algorithm" to track the level of positive and negative tweets about transit system. Below is a graph from Independence Day, where sentiment about CTA can be affected by, for example, Taste of Chicago.


Shocking, yes?

Collins, Hasan and Ukkusuri say that public transportation agencies across the country can use Twitter to learn a lot about what needs to be improved about their infrastructure and service, similar to how marketing firms and movie studios use Twitter and other social media to gauge consumer reaction to films, events and products. Even without the use of Twitter, CTA could use a lot of work.