Patience, they say, is a virtue, but drawing attention to situations where patience is required is often a self-defeating measure. Since the MTA debuted its next-gen rolling stock in the late 1990s, prerecorded voices have long urged us to be patience during the so-called “unavoidable delays,” but recently, the backlash against these reminders of delays has been growing louder. Transit, it seems, is listening.
The furor, which lived in the background for the past decade, reached a crescendo in June when a Daily News columnist bemoaned the constant announcements. Calling them “presumptuous and condescending,” Juliet Lapidos termed them “counterproductive” as well. The messages, which were never focus-grouped, reminded people to be impatient when no one was in a position to do anything about the delay. Now, the tone has changed.
As many riders have noticed lately and as The Post reported today, the vocabularly of the announcements has changed. “We apologize for the inconvenience,” the commanding male voice now says after his warning of “train traffic ahead of us.” Transit officials say they don’t want to “admonish” passengers, and the new announcements are now in place systemwide. Of course, after a while, we’ll probably just ignore it all anyway.
Constant announcements are one of my top complaints about BART. I literally cant do anything while waiting for a train (and after 7pm or on a weekend, you may have to wait a bit), because they break my concentration from reading constantly and I dont have fancy canal-phones to block the sound out, so I have to pause podcasts every time an announcement comes on, or else cover my ears with my hands…
I have the same complaint for some conductors who bunch up the announcements, particularly on the IRT Lex Express when between B’klyn Bridge and Grand Central. Some of these idiots play every announcement they have all in one shot, and the damn digital voice doesn’t shut up while you’re trying to read or hold a conversation.
I can just see the conductor saying to himself “well, they want me to play these damn announcements, I’ll do it all at once so’s I can say I went by da rules.”
And I really, REALLY hate that “courtesy is contagious, and it begins with you” bullcrap. It’s like living in some Orwellian hell.
Agree with all except the courtesy is contagious part. If there’s anything NYC subway riders need to be reminded off and drilled into their heads it’s courtesy and common sense.
Actually, I don’t think the conductor is supposed to play more than one of those announcements between stops.
I’m quite glad they were never focus-grouped… that would be a real waste of MTA funds. But changing “please be patient” to “sorry for the inconvenience” is just as insulting. When a machine has to say “I am sorry”, is anyone really expressing sorrow, or is an apathetic conductor just pressing a button? (Just like another pet-peeve of mine: when someone writes “pls” in an email… if they can’t be bothered to spell out “please”, I don’t believe the request is sincere).
“Sorry for the inonvenience. Thank you for your cooperation” Was the standard MTA message of the 70s. In the end it really doesn’t make any difference what they say. In another 10 years, after passengers are tired of hearing apologies, they will go back to “patience” again. Who really cares? Just get the damn thing moving.
UCB Theater –
I’d rather the conductor get on the PA and tell us what’s actually happening (or even “I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m trying to obtain information”) rather than play a canned announcement.