New App Lets You Complain About The T... Productively

By Jess Bidgood

Aug. 22, 2011

BOSTON — We've all complained about the T in one way or another. Cars without air-conditioning, bus breakdowns and commuter-rail delays: That's a sampling of the passenger-identified problems we've seen on Twitter from the last week alone.

A screenshot from the iPad version of the app shows the first screen users see when they report a problem.

But a new iPhone app may help people complain more productively. The Talk To The T app, now available for free in the iTunes store, allows users to send the T a message detailing a problem they encountered on the system and attach an optional photo. They're also asked to provide their contact info so T officials can follow up. 

"The comments are immediately received in the MBTA's control center where they are assigned to maintenance or operations staff to be handled," said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

There are already a number of applications that use the T's real-time-location data to tell users when their buses or trains are coming. But for this app to work, it needed to be able to talk back to the T — which was made possible by a tool called Citizens' Connect, released by the T earlier this year that offered developers a seamless pipeline for pushing comments and questions to the T's customer service center.

There's already a precedent for using the Web to file complaints with the T. MBTA Twitter-users have taken to tweeting their issues to the Twitter account of Richard Davey, the MBTA's GM (@mbtaGM). He (or someone on his team) consistently responds.

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