Mass Communicating With Metro Riders
On a Red Line train during the noon hour, the operator was making the best, clearest, most informative announcements I've ever heard aboard a train in this town. Some longtime riders will respond that in this town, that's faint praise. But the transit authority and its employees are doing some mass communicating that should be encouraged.
Today's episode: The operator on this train originating in Silver Spring made announcements about how to figure out where to wait for arriving trains, why the trains are moving slowly and what riders should plan for, details about transfering to other lines, why we were stopping briefly and which line offered the best route to National Airport at that hour.
It wasn't just what he said. He said it all in a commanding voice that could be heard clearly throughout the car. He offered friendly greetings to boarding and departing passengers.
If every operator were doing these things, it would vastly improve the relationship between Metro and its customers.
These are some things I'd work on: Metro has a tendency to bureaucratize its announcements. We see that in the e-mail alerts. Everyday at 5 a.m. and 3 p.m., subscribers see Red Line announcements that begin "Disruption at Fort Totten." It's not a new disruption. It's the same disruption that has slowed travel since the June 22 crash. It's nothing more than a bureaucratic category. The message is a useful reminder. Why not just say that's what it is so it doesn't look like an announcement of a new problem?
Other examples: In explaining how to figure out where to stand on the platform, the operator advised waiting passengers to look at the "PIDs." Many regulars know that's a reference to the electronic message boards, but many don't. Also, it's great that Metro is reminding people that the trains now pull all the way to the front of the platforms before stopping. But I think there's still a limited number of riders who know what the "eight-car marker" is.
Finally, I think it's valuable to remind passengers that a Red Line ride may take a lot longer than normal. Our operator advised adding "at least 30 minutes" to a normal trip. That's a really rough estimate. There's been many a long trip in the past two months, but many have been normal. And even a delayed trip of a few stations won't add "at least 30 minutes."
What's the latest with you? Do you still feel like you're not getting enough information from Metro, or has it shifted into overload?
August 6, 2009; 1:45 PM ET
Categories: Metro , transit | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash
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