Five minutes after the contentious presidential debate began broadcasting across the nation, BART’s Twitter team cashed in on election-cycle mania, mocking Donald Trump and pushing people to vote for the transit agency's $3.5 billion bond measure.
“We’re gonna build a better BART, and @metrolosangeles is gonna pay for it,” SFBART (aka Taylor Huckaby) tweeted at 6:05 p.m. Sunday, with a photo of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looking off into the distance.
And then came a rapid-fire series of follow-up tweets, all poking fun with a liberal bent at Trump’s desire to “build a wall” to keep Mexicans out of the United States. ".@metrolosangeles is sending "producers" who are probably baristas, and kale dealers to the Bay Area. Some, I assume, are good people," SFBART tweeted.
Knowing that eyes would be on the tweets, Huckaby, BART's social media guru, used the opportunity to tout the agency's "It's Time to Rebuild" measure on the November ballot. The first tweet had received 1,700 retweets by Monday morning — not bad for a transit agency. "It started off as a bit of a joke," Huckaby said in an email. "Then ran the idea by a few colleagues and then my superiors before getting the sign-off."
BART is hoping voters will pass Measure RR to upgrade the ailing, 44-year-old transit system.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost told NBC Bay Area on Monday that BART gave Huckaby its "blessing" to go ahead and tweet during the presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton, where the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll gave Clinton an 11 point-edge.
From his personal account, Huckaby wrote this in classic Trump-denial mode: "Never said that. @SFBART never said any of that."
Huckaby thanked BART's followers for being "good sports" and reminded everyone to continue watching the debate.
And in case anyone was wondering, Metro Los Angeles, which put a half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot and has dueled with BART in the past during a digital poetry slam, wasn't left in the dark during the jokes.
Huckaby probably felt compelled to let the public know that, after Metro LA's spokesman John Gordeon wrote jokingly: "The SFBART Twitter account has been an absolute disaster. Total disaster."
SFBART tweeted: “(and yes, @metrolosangeles was in on it.")