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The Metrorail Watchdog
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Another day, another delay

09 April 2014, 22:30
I started writing something positive about Metrorail, but that is now like the trains in peak-time delayed.
Thought I might touch on Metrorail’s biggest challenge – my term for problem.

Now before I continue it is maybe also important to note that the Go Metro service which Metrorail was so proud to announce, sometimes don’t even feature delays or cancellations and even thought I will continue to say the service is thus useless (until I’m proven otherwise) – I will acknowledge that Go Metro can and will only be effective with the full proactive cooperation and support by Metrorail’s Operational and Communication teams.
Go Metro is a third party support mechanism to better communication, but it is Metrorail’s Operational Centre and team who receives information first and should relay this information to the Go Metro platform where commuters can access it.

Metrorail from time to time make announcements about trains on platforms at different stations. What management don’t want to acknowledge, accept and address is that the announcers sometimes don’t speak clear for the commuter to hear what the person is saying. If you lucky you might hear “delay”, and for the past month “we apologize for the inconvenience” is not even said anymore. I partly blame the individuals but it is Metrorail who should ensure that staff is fully trained with microphone techniques and judging by the failure to hear what is said, it is clear many announcers have little or any of these techniques.

We live in the 21st century and despite having social network accounts on Twitter and Facebook, Metrorail Western Cape seem to be unable to communicate to commuters effectively.

As mentioned in a previous blog, on Facebook you will every now an then see a press statement. When commuters comment and ask questions, Metrorail’s comments seem to have been cancelled as they never comment on Facebook on questions/concerns. 

On Twitter, @CapeTownTrains will tweet train delays and cancellations – only during peak time – and fail to reply to all questions and criticism from commuters. And when they do, some of those tweeting from the handle got an attitude and respond by tweeting what you can basically just read on their TL.

So what should happen?
Metrorail’s management, area managers and Communication team should do a quick course in public relations or communication to understand why they have to communicate with commuters – or they could just make use of the train in peak time, when trains are delay by 50minutes and it still goes and stand just before Cape Town station, this is after you waited in the rain for a train.
While they busy with the above they can start to commit themselves and encourage colleagues in the Operational Centre to do the same in being more proactive in relaying information to Go Metro.
Announcers can be taught microphone techniques, and that is not an expensive or long exercise.

Both Facebook and Twitter accounts can be used more proactive. Metrorail can start by giving sufficient answers on social networks and not merely repeat what you can already read on their TL.
Metrorail should also be more open with commuters and not only say a train is delay but actually put a time to all delays and give reasons for it.

Metrorail has a weekly newspaper, MyLine, which is not used effectively. The Regional Manager can use this paper to address weekly issues, answer five to ten questions and explain why certain issues occurred in the week. Besides this, they should maybe also get staff to hand out MyLine on the trains as most weeks the papers are just laying on a platform and nobody really picks it up to read it. 

Metrorail can also start by promoting their success stories, especially the off-peak once like their Edu- and Tourism trains. They fail to do this and instead focus on delays.
Metrorail can also start being more proactive and not try and cover their wickets the whole time. At the current rate, Cricket SA might as well hire Metrorail as wicket-keeper.

Metrorail can also start by identifying ambassadors aka “loyal commuters” who can not only inform the Operational Centre on what is happening on the tracks to relay to Go Metro but who can inform fellow commuters on the train about why a train is standing still in the middle of somewhere and nowhere for longer than what a Blackberry battery last.

If Metrorail can admit the important role communication plays and commits to being more proactive with communication, their might just be a bit lesser frustration amongst commuters. 

By Earl September ?@earlseptember 
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