NJ Transit which, along with Comcast and Continental Airlines, form a terrible Troika that plagues my very existence, recently released its first rider report card.
The results weren't pretty, but not nearly as bad as I expected. Some19,000 riders gave the state's rail system a 4.5 grade out of a possible 10. Online performance, required maintenance and communications during serious rail disruptions scored the lowest. I'd have added surly conductors and befouled rest rooms to the list. But, hey, that's just me.
In announcing the results, an NJT spokesperson issued a predictably patronizing quote, saying, 'We're going to target specific areas of improvements.' Sure, you are. And the Catholic Church is going to embrace marriage between gays and lesbians.
Having copped any number of mediocre grades in such high school courses as algebra, chemistry and basic math, I see the marginal scores as an opportunity for NJT to come clean and launch a new era of transparent, credible advertising. I'd suggest the following headlines:
– "The rest of your world sucks. So should your rail experience."
– "NJT: Level-setting what will be just another mediocre day in your miserable existence."
– "Broken bathrooms. Nasty conductors. Delayed trains with no explanation. Living life large on NJT."
– "So, you've been battered, bloodied and berated. Get over it. We got you there. Eventually. NJT."
The survey results also warrant a rider contest. I'd incentivize NJT rail riders to identify the most mediocre person in their deadly dull lives.
How about the most mediocre stop on the NJT North Jersey Coast Line? The most mediocre NJ politician? Talk about a dead heat. Where would one begin?
Winners of the NJT Mediocrity contest would win an all-expense paid trip to America's most mediocre resort destination: Atlantic City. They'd be fed at a mediocre restaurant (Applebee's?), stay at a middle-of-the-road hotel (Courtyard Marriott?) and receive two free tickets to a performance by a thoroughly mediocre performer (Paul Anka?).
I'm proud of NJT. But, they need to leverage this image and reputation opportunity ASAP. How many other brands step up and actually admit their mediocrity? Not Yahoo. Not Burger King. Not The New York Mets. NJT has a once in a brand's lifetime opportunity to own mediocrity.
So, here's hoping the internal communications team doesn't suffer an unexpected delay, stop for required maintenance, get stuck inside a non-working restroom and end up missing this marketer's dream of a window.
Oh, and here's one final tagline submitted for your consideration…..'NJT: We put the suck in unsuccessful.'"
And a tip o' RepMan's conductor's cap to Greg Schmalz for this suggestion.