OC Transpo slams private twitters tweeting bus updates

The city of Ottawa is warning transit users not to trust unofficial OC Transpo twitter accounts that have been created to alert riders to bus cancellations and route changes.

Unlike several Canadian cities, including Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, Ottawa's transit commission does not have a twitter account of its own.

As a regular bus rider, Wesley Chu believes news of cancelled bus trips should come to him.

"Updates need to be done in a timely manner, so I figured twitter is the best way to go," he said.

Chu's automated program pulls bus cancellations directly from OC Transpo's website and tweets them on his account named OC Transpo Alerts.

His Twitter profile states he's not affiliated with OC Transpo.

But that hasn't stopped him from gaining 700 followers, and counting.

"As long as the information seems accurate to them, I think that's all that matters," Chu said.

Another twitter account, called OC_Transpo, provides general updates and advice to riders, and uses OC Transpo's logo. But it doesn't say that it's separate from the bus company.

After a CBC reporter tweeted, asking who is behind OC_Transpo, someone with access to the account replied in a direct message to say: "Hello. I work for OC and have long lobbied for more social interaction, but to no avail. So I took matters to my own hands."

But the chair of the transit commission, Diane Deans, is warning people not to trust the account.

"They are someone that's impersonating OC Transpo. They're not to be relied upon," she said.

Deans said riders shouldn't even trust Chu's automated alerts.

"Today, they may be just providing that information, tomorrow we don't know what information they may provide," she said.

The general Manager of OC Transpo, Alain Mercier, said the agency is investing this year to catch up to social media trends.

"You'll be quite surprised at the end of the day, that 2011 is going to be a different world for OC Transpo," he said.

Mercier said OC Transpo will have a twitter presence by next year.

Until then, he said, OC Transpo will tweet urgent news using the city's main account.

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