To begin, this is not any sort of announcement about Amtrak having an actual, official presence on Twitter. I think that would be great, but that is not what this is. Instead, this post is a small sampling of thoughts and comments on Amtrak and some of its services as found on Twitter. I think the candid nature of commentary found on Twitter can be an insightful way to see what people are thinking about the train in America today.
(I am using Twictur.es to retrieve and render the images seen below. More on this clever little service here. Most of these Tweets were found using what was Summize, before Twitter acquired them in July.)
Not surprisingly, there are themes that quickly emerge as one follows these snippets:
Rants and raves
Delays are a big topic, not surprisingly.
In fact, they are so chronic that it is the absence of them that elicits some of the best tweets:
Finally, for balance, just so you don’t think it’s all awful, some tweets look like this:
The tweets about the quiet cars on Amtrak’s trains quickly demonstrate how much people love this amenity, and how passionately they feel about it. So passionate, that some of the tweets start to veer towards vigilantism, class warfare, and mob rule. Short of that, many of them speak to the eternal tension between rights and duties in a civil society.
Lack of wi-fi
The absence of wi-fi along the trains of the Northeast Corridor will be a post of its own, soon, but this is a huge issue for the tweeters of the world. It makes sense that people that integrated with the net would want it available, but it baffles people that it’s not available on the train.
Many tweets speak to some timeless truths about humanity and travel, such as:
Tweets about Amtrak and Twitter
There are even some tweets about Amtrak and Twitter itself. Some want the firm to have an offical presence
And on Julie herself
Finally, Amtrak’s automated voice Julie receives a lot of coverage on Twitter. Some love her, some hate her, but few seem to realize the voice is an actual woman named Julie. The NYT covered her in a 2004 article here.