Thursday, June 11, 2015

SkyTrain, stop apologizing for the inconvenience

One of the things that has been getting on my nerves lately is during a service disruption on the SkyTrain system, SkyTrain Control gets on the PA system and “apologizes for the inconvenience.” While, I’m sure everyone who works for SkyTrain wants the system to run at its best, that comment at the end of every announcement comes across as insincere.

Why are SkyTrain staff even apologizing in the first place? Is it really the fault of SkyTrain staff that a bird decided to lay a nest on the tracks, or that a piece of old equipment gave up? Certainly, there is maintenance that needs to be done to renewing aging equipment, but funding is limited. A more accurate apology might be “we apologizes that the provincial government continues to play games with transit in Metro Vancouver, and these games have resulted in the degradation of transit service in our region.” Though that apology is for the provincial government alone.

There is also that word inconvenience. To me an inconvenience is when I go to a Starbucks to find out that they are out of Spinach Feta Wraps. Being late for work, missing an appointment, or not getting home until 8pm, when I’m normally home at 6pm, because of an issue with transit is a major disruptions to my live. It’s also a disruption to employers and Metro Vancouver’s economy.

Another thing that bugs me is “apologizing for the inconvenience” doesn’t equate to action. Back to that Starbucks example, Starbucks employees can apologize all they want for the lack of Spinach Feta Wraps, but that will not make any more wraps magically appear. Ordering more wraps is the solution.

Words are very important, and influence people’s perceptions of how events are handled. When there is a service disruption on the SkyTrain, the announcement should say:

“Attention all passengers, attention all passenger this is SkyTrain Control. SkyTrain is experiencing a disruption of service.” If they are feeling inclined, they could also provide some details about what is causing the disruption. If it is going to be a long disruption, the announcement should tell people where to wait for a bus bridge, and that the bus bridge will be extremely full. Further, the announcement should tell people to visit the TransLink website for more information on alternative transportation options.

At the end, the announcement should say “SkyTrain staff are actively working to restore service as fast as possible. We will update you again in 5 minutes.”

This sort of message would assure that SkyTrain is “on it”, and it way better than simply apologizing for the inconvenience.

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