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Allegheny

Port Authority tweets inject a little humor into derailment frustrations

Aaron Aupperlee
| Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, 1:15 p.m.
A screenshot of a tweet posted by Port Authority on Thursday.
A screenshot of a tweet posted by Port Authority on Thursday.

It hasn’t been the best week for Port Authority.

On Sunday, a Norfolk Southern train carrying containers full of Listerine, cat and dog food, diapers, office furniture and more derailed above the Station Square T stop.

Light service between Downtown and the South Hills was snarled for most of the week. Trains were rerouted. Crowds formed at T stations as passengers waited for trains and shuttle buses.

Even the ConnectCard machines went down.

Through it all, the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s Twitter account has kept people inform with up-to-the-minute details on what’s closed, what’s opened and what’s going to be opened or closed.

And it made us laugh a little along the way.

Adam Brandolph, a Port Authority spokesman, has been running the Twitter account all week in addition to sending out a flurry of emails, answering calls from local reporters, appearing on local TV news and helping people find parking before the Taylor Swift concert. He said he’s been working 19-hour days. Friday was the first day he slept past 7 a.m.

“It’s been a week,” Brandolph said. “I think that in a time like this, some gallows humor is appropriate, especially a situation that we did not cause.”

Norfolk Southern and the Federal Railroad Administration are still investigating the cause. Port Authority officials got their first look Thursday at the damage the derailment did to the light rail tracks, and it was worse than expected. What insurance won’t cover, Port Authority is going to ask the railroad to pay for.

Brandolph said had the derailment had been Port Authority’s fault or someone hurt — we can thank Princess for that — his tone on Twitter would have been different. He hoped the humor helped commuters get through the delays and headaches.

“We get it. I get it,” Brandolph said. “The fact that people’s commutes are affected; people’s lives are affected, nobody wants to wait an extra five minutes or 45 minutes just to get work.”

Brandolph said the humor likely came from his time in newsrooms. He was a reporter at the Tribune-Review before joining Port Authority.

The jokes sometimes came to him at odd times, like sitting in a Giant Eagle parking lot. And Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman has been supportive, Brandolph said, replying to one with a GIF of someone laughing.

Before and after the Taylor Swift concert Tuesday, Brandolph dropped in references to Swift’s songs in hopes of catching her fan’s attention.

But don’t be fooled. Brandolph is not the big of a Taylor Swift fan his tweets could lead you to believe.

“You don’t know how many times I had to google Taylor Swift songs,” he said.

Shake it off, Adam. Shake it off.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Aaron at 412-336-8448, aaupperlee@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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