The RTA has awarded a public relations firm a three-month, $45,000 contract “to build on its foundation of priority initiatives by developing innovative ways of reaching budget goals and defining more specific objectives within the priority initiatives,” according to a Tribune story:
RTA Chairman John S. Gates Jr. said in an interview Friday that Hill & Knowlton will help enunciate the need for the CTA, Metra and Pace systems to be restored to a state of good repair, by obtaining more capital-improvement funding.
“The story on our state of good repair issues system-wide is not well known,” Gates said. “We need to do a better job of telling it to the public and the legislature.”
I suppose that may be true, but the question is whether the RTA needs an outside firm with a no-bid contract to get that job done.
Gates also mentioned that Hill & Knowlton will help “build up an electronic constituency for transit” using social media like Facebook.
It’s definitely true that the CTA could use help with connecting with riders on social media. On Facebook, there is a CTA page that is not being managed by the CTA. I guess in a sense I can’t blame them, because I could see it devolving into a big bitch site.
As for Twitter, Harper Reed and Dan X. O’Neil have done the heavy lifting for the CTA on pushing out its service alerts. They’ve written some code to tweet service alerts posted on the CTA site via Twitter handles for each rail line (ie. ctared) and via the general ctatweet.
Of course, judging by how frequently the #cta search term pops up on my TweetDeck, the CTA probably needs help monitoring that feed.