You know that show “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Well based on my experience, many adults say the darndest things too! And some even post them on social media sites for everyone in the world to see.
Recently, we launched a social media campaign to spread the word about how the new express lanes will work and when folks might want to consider using them.
We had an incredible response.
More than 6,000 people visited our special express lane webpage:
And more than 4,500 people took our “What MoPac Lane Are You?” quiz.
We used Facebook and Twitter as promotional tools, and being the open and transparent agency that we are, we allowed people to submit comments and feedback for the whole world to see. I of course, had the unenviable task of responding to the frequently funny, occasionally vicious and sometimes misguided comments.
For those of you who didn’t have the pleasure of seeing these entertaining comments for yourself, I thought I would share a few of them with you. The following comments are from people who were encouraged to take our “What MoPac Lane are You?” quiz.
I think my favorite comment was:
Less Quizzy, more Worky
It was hard to argue with that point. We all want the project done sooner rather than later.
One comment I just had to respond to was:
No bike, no like
If you read my last blog, you already know we are making significant improvements to the bike and pedestrian facilities along MoPac to the tune of roughly $5 million.
One of the more vicious comments was:
Looks like y’all are a lot better at making stupid Internet surveys than coming up with solutions to our traffic problems. Seriously, you should all quit your job and start up a tech company. So creative!
I almost responded to this one with a crying emoticon. Government employees have feelings too you know.
One of the more misguided comments was:
Glad you are a propagandist for a project no one likes too. Enjoy the ride, at least someone will!
Important note here, this person made the mistake of saying “no one” likes the project. You lose credibility when you do stuff like that. That would be like me saying “everybody loves” the project. I know that’s not true. How do I know for sure? Well a recent survey found 51% of MoPac drivers had a positive opinion about the project and 27% had a negative opinion.
People who took the MoPac quiz found out whether they were most likely to drive in the slow lane, the middle lane, the fast lane or the express lane. One person came up with their own lane.
Hah! I got the “illegally being converted to a toll road lane!”
I’ve got to admit that’s pretty funny, but it’s untrue. We aren’t converting an existing lane on MoPac to a toll road lane. That would in fact be illegal under state law. Instead we are spending more than $200 million to widen all of the bridges and add new pavement, so we can open one completely new express lane in each direction.
Perhaps the most misguided comment we received was the following regarding this person’s lane of choice:
The one where you people actually come up with real traffic solutions, better public transportation, and not money grubbing toll lanes that are a whopping 4 miles long… yep, that’s my lane.
There’s just so much wrong with this diatribe. First of all we are not “money grubbing” we are “avaricious.” Not! On top of that, the express lanes are 11 miles long, not four. But humor and basic facts aside, one of the main purposes of the express lanes is to provide a dedicated congestion free route for public transit vehicles like Express Buses. The reality is Express Lanes are one of the most valuable public transit programs currently underway in Central Texas. (By the way I had to use a synonym finder to come up with the term avaricious. Prior to writing this blog I had no idea there was a sophisticated word that meant the same thing as money grubbing.)
Then there was the guy who fell for the inexplicable anti-Spanish urban myth about foreign owned toll roads.
I’d prefer to be the gridlock free lane owned by Texans. Sadly it doesn’t exist, more than likely never will.
Like many unwitting victims of the foreign owned toll road myth, he was surprised to learn that all of the toll roads in Austin are actually government owned and operated. The only local toll road financed and operated by a Spanish concessionaire is SH 130 south of Creedmoor. Personally, I still don’t get why some people dislike the Spanish anyway?
Side note: A highly educated and politically savvy Austinite recently tweeted that he had a problem with the Spanish owning the MoPac Express Lanes. I was tempted to respond to him in Spanish, but I didn’t trust Google to translate or my boss to appreciate my sense of humor.
Finally, to end on a positive note, I must admit how much I actually enjoy interacting with people, even the curmudgeons. It keeps the job interesting and challenging. Best of all I occasional get kudos, sort of:
I just want to salute the social media manager who has to pretend to be jazzed about a toll lane. You, sir or madam, deserve a cold adult beverage, as well as my sympathies.