Saturday, May 28, 2011

Open Letter to LIRR

The Long Island Rail Road is having trouble figuring out why their ridership is down.
What with oil and gas prices in the stratosphere they wonder why more people are getting in their cars and driving to work rather than use their mass transit rail service.
They scratch their empty heads as they search for ways to fill the ever increasing revenue gap.
And speaking of gaps notice how management fixed the physical gap problem.  For those of you lucky enough to not use the LIRR the gap between the trains doors and the platform is terribly wide at many stations.  Management now has recorded announcements telling riders to step over the gap.  (Much cheaper than actually fixing the problem.)
So let me see if I can help these ostrich types of our Metropolitan Transit Authority with a few suggestions.
First and foremost we must examine their ability to run a reliable and trustworthy business.
When people tell their mortgage company they will pay on time they are expected to do so.  The bank will not accept 5 or 6 days late as on time and will charge dearly for the tardy behavior!
The LIRR seems to consider anything up to 6 minutes late AS ON TIME!
They even have the nerve to boast on-time service based on this faulty premise.
As for overall service, when it rains somewhere in the tri-state area riders are hit with immediate delays, cancellations and disruptions.
Again the LIRR takes no blame claiming rather that the weather is an act of God.
One wonders if they have ever hear of contingency plans?
They constantly ask riders to keep the trains clean and keep their feet off the seats.  Frankly most trains are so filthy to begin with riders don’t even like putting their butts on the seat.
Enter at own risk
Now I agree that some of the blame for the filthy condition of railroad cars must go to the ridership but people sense conditions when they enter the cars and tend to act accordingly.
But the final nail in what should be managements coffin is their constant indifferent stupidity.
They act as though customers are mindless sheep and will do whatever they are told to do.
It’s not bad enough that their mentality forces them to raise rates when ridership is down in order to continue making money but they have made it impossible for riders to exist!
Long Island is comprised mainly of large middle class working communities.  The people in these communities who still have jobs are making less money than before as business owners see the high unemployment rate as an excuse to pay lower wages.
So with less cash in their pockets workers are faced with the new LIRR policies that force them to rethink their commutation plans.
Many of the new regulations for LIRR tickets is not only bad business but it borders on absolute insanity!
Tickets now have very short expiration dates from time of purchase.  If you buy it today in anticipation of travelling in two weeks you lose out completely as the ticket will no longer be accepted.
The opposite to that way of thinking may be seen at the US Postal Service.
The Post Office sells stamps they hope people will collect and keep and never use. But those stamps are good forever at face value so if a collector decides to use them he will pay the difference and move on. The Postal Service makes a nice profit with that strategy and keeps its customers happy.
Back at the 'caveat emptor' LIRR refunds for accidentally purchased wrong tickets now cost more than the tickets themselves.
In other words if you plan ahead you are screwed.  But if you do not plan ahead and must purchase your ticket on the train you had better be carrying enough cash to make a mugger’s eyes light up!
The bottom line is simply this, for some reason the LIRR management feels that the best way to maintain the railroad is to treat the customer like dirt and continue to charge them more for it!
Take responsibility and seek out ways to actually make the railroad better.
Fight FOR ridership not against.
Unfortunately my voice is not important to these well to do anti-social types and rates will most assuredly rise in the coming years as those leaders continue to scratch their aforementioned collective empty heads over lost revenue.
Should they keep on their current course I foresee a time in the not so distant future when the seven remaining customers are paying $50,000 each for one way off-peak tickets purchased three minutes in advance at a ticket machine that only accepts cash.
Oh, and they needn’t rush – because the train will be on-time.


train buddy said...

Oh how I wish the MTA could read this. Would love to hear their response. Maybe you can sweat talk Newsday into printing your article and ask for a rebuttal from the MTA

Cousin Bruce said...

Hmmm - Not a bad idea!