In eight days, the MTA is going to raise fares. They’re not eliminated the unlimited cards or capping the number of rides one may take in a seven- or 30-day period, and although you and I know this, not everyone in New York is aware of the impending change.
For a piece in amNew York, Theresa Juva tracked down straphangers who had no idea of the structure of the impending fare hike or, in some cases, that the fares were even going to go up. One person she interviewed still believed the rides would be capped. While it’s likely that Juva interviewed more than a few people who knew about the fare hike, that she found so many uninformed or misinformed New Yorkers speaks volumes. But about what?
On the one hand, it speaks volumes about the attention New Yorkers pay to the subways. By and large, they don’t pay any. They still think the MTA had two sets of books, and they’re largely ignorant and willfully so of the goings-on underground. Even though we all feel the effect of subway cuts and fare hikes, too many people fail to educate themselves. Furthermore, when the MTA tries to use its own signage space to communicate with writers, newspaper editorial boards turn those efforts into absurdly stupid controversies that shouldn’t be controversial at all.
But on the other hand, the failure is one of signage. Look at that fare hike sign. I found that one in Rockefeller Center as thousands of harried commuters rushed past, and it’s enough to make a graphics designer cry. The MTA has hung up signs that are chock full o’ words, and it’s impossible to discern info quickly and easily from the signs. The fare hike might be coming, but the inability to decipher signs on the go is a failure not of the public but of customer service.