On-time performance indicators are trending downward for New York City Transit. (Click to enlarge.)
Late to work again! The boss won’t be happy. But this time, it’s not your fault. You swear. It was that blasted MTA.
You thought it was your lucky day. The train pulls in right after that MetroCard swipe, and you run down the stairs, hoping the doors stay open just long enough. You sashay into the subway, not quite standing clear of the closing doors, but you can breathe that sigh of relief. You won’t be late to work after all.
Then disaster. The train crawls out of the station behind squealing to a halt. A minute goes by. “We apologize for the unavoidable delay,” the automated PA system says. “We should moving shortly.”
Two minutes. Five minutes. Same announcement. Finally, at ten minutes, the conductor describes the “sick passenger” at the next station. The train will be moving as soon as paramedics arrive.
As the minutes tick by, you realize that your boss isn’t going to buy yet another delayed train excuse. It’s the third time this month you’ve been late, and when you get to work, the boss is livid. Proof! he demands. Much like your eighth-grade history teacher, your boss wants proof that you’re actually telling the truth about the near-daily train delays.
Enter the MTA. For a while, the MTA has offered a call-in service that has provided 34,000 adult tardy slips a year. Give the transit authority a ring, tell them your train and the approximate time of your delay. Within a few weeks, you will get a note proving your claim.
“The program serves an important purpose to those customers who in the event of a delay arrive late to work,” NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges told the New York Post this weekend. “It is independent verification of what they anecdotally relay to their employer or school upon arrival.”
Now, in an effort to simplify the process, the agency is going digital with this process. James Fanelli from The Post had more:
[While now, passengers can call one of the MTA's 80 customer-service agents at (718) 330-1234 to request a delay-verification letter], by mid-2009, the MTA expects to have an online request form that riders can fill out. MTA reps will still research the delay but issue paperless notes.
“Those who file a request online would receive an e-mail reply,” [NYC Transit Spokesman Paul] Fleuranges said. “It will be somewhat faster for our customers and less expensive for us, as we’ll be reducing all the related postage costs and cutting down on paper.”
The delay-verification letter shows the lines taken and any station transfers made. It provides the total time of the trip, plus the time due to delays. The note also details the longest delay times on the affected lines during that period.
How can you not love this idea? First, it should be a cost-saving measure because it automates an easy process. Calling people to request a delay notification is just a waste of time and resources on both sides of the call. Any time you can move a phone call to an online interface represents a cost improvement.
It’s also a sure sign of the MTA’s ongoing commitment to technological improvements. With the recent — if slightly buggy — text and e-mail alert system, the MTA is attempting to overcome some of its technological failures.
Finally, with delays on the rise and service cuts threatening to make matters worse, a lot of irate straphangers will looking for the grown-up version of the note from our parents we once needed in school. To put this service online is a very good move indeed.