NYC’s MTA ends Twitter alerts after Elon Musk demands $50,000

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New York City’s mass-transit system is ending its real-time service alerts on Twitter for subway, train and bus riders as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority curbs its relationship with the platform owned by Elon Musk.

Twitter had asked the MTA to pay $50,000 a month to continue accessing the platform’s application programming interface, or API, an infrastructure tool that allows for multiple computer programs to work together, according to an MTA official. Twitter didn’t specifically respond to an emailed request for comment.

“I don’t think it would be the best use of resources, especially when we have these other features and functions that are internal and homegrown and that are reliable that we want our customers to use,” Shanifah Rieara, MTA’s acting chief customer officer and senior advisor, said in a telephone interview. “We want to communicate with our customers through all platforms, but we need a platform that is reliant and consistent and up to date.”  

MTA’s Twitter accounts that offered real time service updates to riders, including @NYCTSubway, @NYCTBus, @LIRR and @MetroNorth, will no longer be used to push out communication like service alerts to riders, according to the transit system. Transit system employees will still monitor those handles and respond to social media messages. There’s no planned change to @MTA account.

Twitter had announced that it would suspend its access to its API on Feb. 9 but then said a new paid tier structure to use it would go into effect at the end of March, according to the MTA. Twitter didn’t offer a time line for when older accounts would lose access, the agency said. 

The MTA has a $600 million budget deficit this year that’s set to grow to $3 billion in 2025 as federal pandemic aid runs out. The state agency is hoping that a plan by New York Governor Kathy Hochul and state legislators will help curb the system’s financial challenges. 

Riders on subways, buses and commuter rails can still get real-time service information on MTA’s phone apps, MYmta and TrainTime, its website and on WhatsApp.

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