Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Manners, Regional Transit and Expansion Plans

Is today Groundhog Day? If it isn't, the news certainly is.

Picking up where Fox 25's Morning Program started off yesterday, today's The Boston Globe ran a story about the MBTA's new "manners" campaign. Making the same reference to Emily Post as Train Stopping made yesterday, The Globe details the courtesy campaign. So how did the T come up with the idea for this campaign? Last year they asked 107 volunteer riders to keep journals about their observations and experiences using the T. While I understand how manners sometimes plays a role, it is amazing that the T didn't decide to create a campaign to try to make all their buses, subways, trains, and commuter boats run on-time. Because I can tell you some stories about less than stellar experiences trying to get from Point A to Point B on the T.

MBTA GM Dan Grabauskas, who would never pass up a fluff media opportunity, of course was interviewed for the article. I can't even believe he made this quote, noting that the "manners" problem can be attributed to more riders using the T. Honestly Dan, nice way to b*tch slap your clientele - you obviously know a lot about how to treat customers:
"We scratched our heads and said maybe there's a funny and lighthearted way we can remind people of those common courtesies that would make everybody's trip better," Grabauskas said.
The commuters quoted for this article gave the campaign a mixed-review. Seriously - how much money did the T invest in this? For a budget-strapped entity, it seems weird that money is used trying to teach manners and provide WiFi. At the end of the day, people want to use the T to get somewhere.

While I agree that people shouldn't use the T as a trash receptacle, respect is a two-way street. Many T riders will say that they aren't respected by T employees. Yes, that doesn't mean that riders should leave their Dunkin' Donuts cups or newspapers behind, maybe people would respect things more if they were riding on clean, well-kept buses and train cars. I always think about Washington, DC's Metro system as a great example of a well-run public transit authority. Metro riders are not permitted to eat on the trains. But I think the respect is a two-way street: Metro stations are very clean and the Metro does a great job of telling you when the next train is approaching.

So, Dan the Man, I hope spending money trying to educate your customers is money well spent. It sure seems to me that this whole big program was a way to get the media outlets to focus on the less desirable elements of the T - including the budget and Dan's leadership. Way to go, Danny, on generating coverage that makes you look "aces." Maybe if you actually used the T to get to where you needed to go once and a while, you would realize that T riders aren't all that bad and you would understand that respect is a two-way street.

This story was also covered by WBZ-TV and WTEN.

Lt. Governor Tim Murray is making the op-ed rounds. Today's published an op-ed written by the Lt. Governor about the commuter rail expansion. It is the same exact op-ed published by The Daily News Tribune on Sunday.

Yesterday's WickedLocalAshland published an article about State Senator Karen Spilka's (D-Ashland) involvement in transportation issues.

Finally, two separate articles about regional transportation initiatives between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Today's Foster's Daily Democrat published an editorial about how mass transit expansion should occur between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Some are arguing for extending the commuter rail line, while others would like to see greater bus service. The area in question is the Merrimack Valley - that piece of Southern New Hampshire directly above the Massachusetts state line. The Boston Herald ran a similar article on Sunday, noting that a recent report said that a bus lane on I-93 makes the most logistical and economical sense.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kaz over at Universal Hub has a great idea for his own "manners" stickers/slogans for the T:

Why are you driving so slow?
We've got places to go!

Please open doors in the back.
This train is full packed!

but my favorite is:

I don't mean to cuss,
but where the hell is my bus?