Last week, I received an email from Transport For West Midlands (TfWM) inviting me to join their new ‘online community forum’.
An online community is a forum where participants can share their views on different topics. At TfWM we want to use this community to make sure that changes made to the transport network in our region are tried and tested with our residents, and we want YOU to join and help us make a difference!
Within this community there will be opportunities to take part in different research activities – these range from smaller topics where we might ask a few questions around a particular theme (for example how could local travel information in the West Midlands be improved) to more detailed projects and tasks. Along the way there will also be the opportunity to try out new products or apps and give feedback on what works and what doesn’t. You will see things before everybody else does, and give your input on how things can be improved!
You are welcome to contribute as much as you want. You can take part in all of the activities, or just some of them, it’s entirely up to you! Don’t worry, we’ll keep you fully up-to-date with what activities are happening!
As a thank you for taking part there will be a variety of incentives for the different types of activities we do. For example, you might be entered into an e-voucher prize draw for leaving a comment in a small discussion or receive a ‘best comment’ prize. We will give you more information about this with every activity that we launch.
I have previously criticised TfWM for operating a ‘closed-shop’ when it came to seeking views and opinions from public transport users, and that was the whole basis for me setting up this WMBU website as a more community-driven ‘open discussion’ platform.
At this stage though, joining this new TfWM ‘community’ is still pretty much ‘invite-only’, and I only received my invititation by virtue of being signed up to their mailing list and having expressed an interest in taking part in their ‘research’.
The “West Midlands Bus Users” (WMBU) community only requires you to provide your full name, and a ‘general’ location in order to sign up.
To be honest, I’m not really interested in how old you are, or what your ethnicity is, we do have additional fields you can complete in your account profile, but they are really of no concern to me, and are of course completely optional.
All we care about here are your opinions, views and questions. I’m not interested in asking any of you to carry out ‘research’ by completing tasks or activities.
And I’m sorry, but I’m not in any position to be giving away vouchers in order to ‘bribe’ people into participating!
So while I welcome TfWM taking this step forward, I hope that more people will continue to participate in my own website and join in discussions here, in order to engage openly with other public transport users on the issues that really matter to you.
Let us try and drive and push TfWM and transport operators, rather than have them try and push and direct us!