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NYC's transport authority returns to Twitter as free API access is restored

It’s still recommending people sign up for email and SMS alerts.

Caitlin Ochs / reuters

NYC’s Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) has returned to Twitter after leaving the platform last month. Real-time status updates are once again available across the organization’s multiple accounts. This is good news for commuters, as MTA’s social media accounts are a reliable way to suss out any issues with the city’s subways, buses and trains.

The MTA originally left Twitter the decision to start charging for API access, a move that would’ve cost the organization $50,000 each month, according to Bloomberg. That’s a whole lot of subway tokens. It went on to say that Twitter “is no longer reliable for providing the consistent updates riders expect.”

So what changed? Twitter did. The social network reversed course on charging exorbitant API fees to verified government and publicly-owned services that use the tool for "critical purposes" like emergency notifications, transportation updates and weather alerts. Being as how the MTA is all about transportation updates, it made the cut.

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However, just because the MTA is back on Twitter doesn’t mean it changed its tune regarding the social network’s reliability. The organization used today’s announcement to encourage followers to sign up for email/SMS alerts and to download official apps.

Twitter shut down its free API earlier this year, instituting a $100-per-month tier for regular folks and a much higher tier for enterprise customers. Originally, Twitter grouped together institutions that provide a public service (like the MTA) with any other business. This forced many companies and organizations to leave the platform entirely and others (like Microsoft) to drop Twitter from advertising platforms.

As with all things related to modern Twitter, the API access change could flip back tomorrow, so get your real-time subway alerts while you can. In the meantime, the MTA’s various accounts are staffed by actual people, so you can chat with customer service “to get help with trip planning, info on delayed trains, and other issues.”