When the MBTA launched a Valentine’s Day contest that asked riders to share videos expressing the reasons they love a particular bus stop, train station or neighborhood, some customers wondered if it was actually April Fool’s Day instead.
“This Valentine’s Day, we want to know what you love about your MBTA stop, dock, or station & the neighborhood it serves,” the T said in a tweet promoting the contest, called Next Stop: The World. “Make a video, 60 seconds or less, and share it on Twitter for your chance to win.”
❤️ This Valentine’s Day, we want to know what you love about your MBTA stop, dock, or station & the neighborhood it serves. Make a video, 60 seconds or less, and share it on Twitter for your chance to win 2 roundtrip flights courtesy of @JetBlue.— MBTA (@MBTA) February 14, 2020
The competition promises the person with the best submission a pair of roundtrip plane tickets on a JetBlue flight to any city that the airliner travels to.
While they were clearly looking for positive content from passengers, what the T received from some of its 339,000 followers was something else entirely: a heaping helping of chocolate-covered snark.
“Yesterday I’m in car 3619a on the green line to lechmere. Your driver shut a door on a stroller with a baby in it 2 seconds after they opened the door to let people off,” one person replied. “I don’t have it on video... send me tix.”
Another person said, “The thing I like best about my Mbta stop is that when I am on my way home it means I can get off the Mbta now and that I made it home alive.”
Other responses ranged from describing a T station as “dark dank cold misery” that’s “so leaky and cold that it gets icicles inside in the winter,” to sharing screengrabs of text message alerts from the MBTA on Valentine’s Day announcing train delays due to mechanical problems.
And then there was this retort, which at least a few people put out there: “This is an April Fool’s Day joke...right??????”
No tickets to Turks and Caicos were forthcoming.
One person who replied to the T’s request seemed to do so in earnest Friday. The rider wrote a lovesick ode to the new Orange Line trains, which included a video of one of the vehicles pulling into a station.
“My one true love, the Orange Line, is always there for me,” the person said. “He takes me to all the cool places, like Assembly Row, State (my favorite stop), and Chinatown. Plus he got a makeover.”
In a statement Friday, Andrew Cassidy, the T’s director of social media, said while “we still have a lot we need to improve on to provide our riders with the transit experience they deserve,” the contest is meant to infuse positivity into the transit experience, and highlight the communities the T passes through.
He said they “expect a level of skepticism and negativity to come with what we produce, especially on social media,” but they don’t let that stop them from looking at new ways to engage with customers.
“We’re putting humanity back in the T," he said. “We truthfully care about our riders and take their issues to heart."
Cassidy said this isn’t the first time the T has launched a campaign to connect with its passengers. In October last year, workers went out in the system and handed out gifts donated by various sponsors to riders, he said.
For those without a cold heart, there’s still time to enter a legitimate submission to the contest. The deadline for the competition is Feb. 28. Officials from the MBTA said the winner will be picked by a 3-judge panel chosen by the transit agency. The judges will be looking for “originality and creativity” rather than high-quality production.
According to the official rules, participants are encouraged to take video of "the people, or a local restaurant, library, park, or special event” in their community, and the MBTA bus route, subway, trolley, train, ferry, or station that gets them there. Once finished, they should upload it to Twitter using the hashtag #NextStopTheWorld.
The winning contestant will be notified via direct message, on Twitter, in mid-March, according to a special website set up for the contest.
“We’re very much looking forward to seeing the videos our riders produce and learning more about their communities,” Cassidy said.
I love that Maverick is close to my apartment, so if I get there and find that the delays are severe, I can easily give up and walk home. I could also do this with the airport, but JetBlue would never let me down like that.— lauren (@ljs39) February 14, 2020
Omg I hope people just take videos of the broken turnstiles...maybe throw some heart confetti as you walk in for free— Emily (@emilyluvsboston) February 14, 2020
My favorite T stop doesn't exist. It's clean, modern, well maintained, and the buses/trains arrive in a timely fashion so we're not stuck in the sub freezing temperatures for twenty+ minutes.— David Bernier (@DavidBe83149689) February 14, 2020
I truly love how wherever the MBTA is, no matter what station, I can always count on them for safe, reliable and consistent service. I know they’re there to help in emergencies! Had so many headlines to choose from! #NextStopTheWorld @MBTA @JetBlue 😍🥰🤗✨💥🔥🌸 https://t.co/UPLuIEjRxK pic.twitter.com/dhmP2el4EW— jackiɇ (@jackieroze) February 14, 2020