An open letter to Metrorail – here's why you need to up your service delivery game
There are many different kinds of anger that I’ve experienced in my lifetime.
There’s apoplectic anger – a rage that feels like it will make your head explode. Then there’s the rage cry – when the lines between the anger and disappointment you feel blurs into one giant mess and you burst into tears out of the sheer frustration of it all. This too, is something I’m intimately familiar with.
However, the fury I want to talk about today is in another category altogether.
This is the kind of anger that blends a combination of helpless fuming, sadness and disillusionment which makes up the starter pack I’ve dubbed “I give up on you because I don’t even know why I bother anymore.”
Out of all the forms of anger that I’ve experienced, I think this one is the worst. It’s the worst because it’s the kind of ire that stems from giving a system, person or service one too many chances and having those chances disregarded time and time again.
It’s also the type of rage that convinces you that your voice doesn’t matter and one that convinces you that the person, system or service you’re trying to fight won’t listen to you, or have stopped listening to you long ago.
This is the kind of anger I’m experiencing towards you right now, Metrorail.
And you, Metrorail - or should I call you by your other delightful, but well-earned moniker, Metrofail – have long stopped hearing the pleas of your customers to do better.
Let’s be honest here. I think I speak on behalf of almost everyone who uses trains as a means of transport when I say that we are actually so bloody gatvol of putting up with your horrendous and unspeakably awful service. So in light of this, I have a few questions for you – which I hope you’ll answer (but which I’m not expecting you to because I have zero faith in you).
How many times do we have to hear that the trains have been delayed by 60 minutes?
Yes of course we know there are alternative modes of transport, but what you’re not taking into account is that depending on where people live, not everyone has access to more than one transport option.
Oh, and that alternative modes of transport option (or is it an excuse?) can only fly by with people for so long. You’re supposed to have a system that actually works, and not one that redirects us to solutions.
When your service becomes known more for advising passengers to use alternative means of transport than using your service, then you know you have a problem.
And let’s not even talk about when your trains are delayed when people need to get home. It takes many people about an hour to get home. You can imagine that with delays, it takes those who live that far even longer to get home.
Do you realise that by the time they eventually get to their destination, there are often no more forms of additional transport for them to complete their trip home (if they even have that option and don’t have to walk?)
Do we need to tell our bosses that we’re going to be late for work almost every single day of our lives?
Let me start off by saying that I am very fortunate to have an understanding and sympathetic boss and colleagues. I couldn’t ask for any better people to listen to my constant griping about your shoddy service.
Do you know how it feels to message your colleagues to tell them that you're going to be late for work for the millionth time? I didn’t realise that being late for work was one of the "perks" of making using your service Metrorail.
My boss and colleagues may be absolute gems, but I know that several people don’t work with people who are as understanding. I know someone who was unfairly dismissed and only reinstated when he asked Metrorail to write a letter explaining why he was always so late. He might have gotten his job back, but the damage was done.
And he’s not the only one. People’s livelihoods are at stake and instead of doing your utmost to improve the situation, it just seems to be getting worse.
That’s just not on.
WATCH: Pet peeves in trains
Why are there always signal problems and cable theft?
Listen, I know you guys have problems with this.
In fact, I think in many cases it’s not even your fault, especially regarding the issue of cable theft. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I believe it’s a major source of frustration for both you and those of us who have to travel via train (see, I’m not entirely unreasonable, am I?).
But while you can’t control who gets to your trains, what I don’t get is why there isn’t more security? What steps are being taken to ensure that your trains aren’t easily accessible to those wishing to vandalise or steal the cables?
Just recently, according to News24, another train in Retreat was set on fire – and it’s not the first time. Ward councillor Kevin Southgate said that many people who reside near the station have been asking for a fence to be built, but have had no luck in having this request granted.
The thing is, all the stations I pass on a daily basis don’t have anything that makes it harder for people to get access to the trains. People can just come and go as they please – it’s another reason why so many get away with travelling on the train without a ticket.
And speaking of which, what are you doing about the people who aren’t travelling with train tickets?
The trains are packed enough as it is and many of us often have to forgo a train because there’s absolutely no place for anyone to stand, much less even move. I think two things are at play here: train delays, and people slipping in without tickets.
This frustrates me no end because I’ve been travelling by train for 10 years now and remember a time when there were regular checks from the staff to see whether we had our tickets on us and whether or not we were in the right carriage.
Nowadays checks are sporadic at best (and I’m being kind here). I get that there may be staff rotations in place and not everyone will be able to check all the time, but have you seen how full the trains are?
It doesn’t matter how early we get to the station (I sometimes wait up to two hours to get a train), it’s always overflowing with people. If only you would check them more often and ensure that the people who actually paid for the tickets are those who should be in the train.
Here’s the thing:
I could go on about the things that are so problematic with your service, but that will end up being the novel I’ve always wanted to write. And to be honest, I really don’t want to hate you Metrorail. In fact, in the past years, I’ve always enjoyed travelling by train and being the reader I am, I have often enjoyed being able to catch up on a few chapters whenever I managed to get a seat.
I also think that your social media team tries really hard to be helpful – and I appreciate that – but consider this: we’re paying money for system that has consistently failed us over the past few years now.
It never used to be this way – so why do we have to put up with this now?
Do you travel by train? What has your experience been like? Tell us and we could feature it in a future article.