Mind the gap

Boy with Broken Toy TrainNew Jersey Transit rail commuters are constantly warned to “mind the gap” as they step in, and out, of the monopoly’s woefully unkempt carriages.

The same phrase could be used to warn passengers of the yawning gap that exists between the happy talk on NJT’s website (www.NJTransit.com) and the actual rider experience.

For example, take today. Please!

This morning, NJT (@njtransit) had 30-45 minute delays as the result of a “…prior derailment of a Conrail freight train.” Nice.

A quick check of the rail cartel’s home page, however, spotlighted an exciting, new rider opportunity: In exchange for completing a customer service survey, one lucky rider could win a free monthly pass! That’s like telling a well-behaved prisoner his exemplary conduct might earn him an extra year in the big house.

NJT’s slogan is ‘Getting you there.’ I’ve previously suggested they add the word eventually in order to mind the gap between what they say and what we riders experience.

I’ve also suggested they drop the existing tagline and opt instead for ‘Reliably unreliable.’ There’d be no gap whatsoever between that message and each, and every, NJT commuter’s daily experience.

One other mind the gap observation: NJT conductors and station managers rarely explain the cause of a delay, and never offer an apology.

Compare that conduct with the actions of Michael Shaw, a conductor on the Metro-North rail line that serves southern Connecticut and New York City. After telling riders on his stop to wait 30 minutes on their station platforms for an express train that would be following his slow-as-molasses local one, Shaw found out the latter one had been cancelled.

Shaw was appalled. So, he composed a hand-written letter of apology, made 500 copies and deposited one on the seats of those very same trains the next day. How cool is that?

And, how predictable was Metro-North’s reaction? In an e-mail to the media who covered Shaw’s gallantry, M-N spokesperson Marjorie Anders, said that, while the transit system shared Shaw’s concerns, they (do) not condone his method of communicating them.

Nice. It would seem that Metro-North also needs to mind the gap between what they promise in their marketing and what riders experience.

And, what about Michael Shaw’s fate? Beats me. But, if I were running NJT’s PR program, I’d poach Shaw, and name him chief communications officer. I like his old school approach to civility and communications. Shaw closes the gaps.

5 thoughts on “Mind the gap

  1. The mentality of Metro North and NJ Transit mgmt. proves this slogan:
    “Mass Transit — It’s What People Want OTHER People To Use”