Remember Captain Commuter – Rebecca Turner? Annoyed at poor public transport,  she set up in around 2004 and activated a grassroots movement. I can’t remember what her call to action was – boycott buses on a particular day? – but it got the attention of our politicians, and lots of press.

Social Media Asia

Singapore has a similiar revolt going on. Bernard Chan, a student, has set up National Petition for Fairer Transport Fares for students.

Hub and spoke network

Bernard Chan set up a hub – a website (wordpress blog at )  and the spoke is mostly Facebook. There is also on the ground activities around asking people to sign a “real world” petition.

He first started a Facebook page, which has more than 1,000 members to date. Then he set up a website adding more information. Finally, his team took to the streets to get signatures for his petition, to complement the online efforts.  singapore fairer transport

He said Facebook was the best platform to reach his target audience – the young people. “They use new media every day,” he said.

While interacting with people on the street gave him a lot more examples and ammunition for the petition, Mr Chen said it was impossible to be out and about daily.

“Such a platform is the best way to get to us,” he said. The campaign ended when the Public Transport Council reduced fares earlier this year, with all tertiary students getting a 4.4 per cent fare cut, not exactly the team’s desired outcome, but “a positive step forward”, he said.

They had garnered 5,200 signatures by the end of the campaign. (AsiaOne)

We are only just starting to feel our power as a community. Governments won’t just be listening to lobby groups and industry organisations but also online social networks that demand attention. It’s not that we don’t know we have the power at the moment, it’s that the tools for cohesive collaborative organisation are still being distributed. But it’s coming…