Dear MTA: Appeal to Riders’ Better Selves
Anyone who must rely on mass transit to get to work, go shopping or visit friends, knows what it means to suffer every now and then.
Here at the New York-based DGC, every single staffer arrives to work via commuter rail, bus or subway. (Ok, everyone except our illustrious founder who lives close enough to walk.)
When the MTA announced that some subway lines would be shut down four nights straight (10 p.m. to 5 a.m.) each month for the rest of the year so that proper cleaning and maintenance could take place, eternally cranky New Yorkers rolled their eyes and groaned, to some degree because of what the MTA is calling the effort: “Operation Fastrack,” a moniker seemingly selected to rub everyone’s faces in how they’ll be inconvenienced, not transported faster. There’s nothing “fast” about a program that causes delays and confusion. The term is almost comical in an Orwellian sort of way.
Using mass transit means putting up with occasional delays and other nuisances (bad smells, noise, overheating, under heating, litter, crazy people). As such, it’s not surprising that the MTA must conduct regular maintenance and repair work to enable the NYC subway system to transport 3 million people daily. Using public and private funds this way is welcome.
From a communications standpoint, we think “Operation Safetrack” would have been a much smarter name because it appeals to people’s sense of civic duty and their willingness to sacrifice in the name of public safety—enduring inconvenience for the long-term good that the repairs will create.
So far, the MTA has said nothing about how “Operation Fastrack” will make subway travel faster, but their public messages on this topic going forward should emphasize how much safer underground travel will be once the program is completed. That message would certainly go a longer way in customer relations.