Continuing with the argument as to how difference in management’s and public’s perspectives can lead to poor customer experiences, here are a few more customer experiences to quote.
Overcrowding in public transit systems has become a daily life fact almost all around the world. ‘Anyone who rides public transport knows that, perhaps second only to delays, overcrowding is a critical part of the passenger experience,’ says Nir Erez, CEO of Moovit. Chronic overcrowding must be addressed by introducing rolling stock mobility strategies to ensure proper management of on-board commuters.
Entitled Overcrowding on Public Transport’s report proposed the implementation of back-up plans stating, ‘Passengers are unable to board vehicles, or if they can, are forced into intolerable conditions. There should be immediate and urgent plans to improve the situation.’ According to a survey, almost two-thirds of Australians believed that investment in public transport is more important than investment in roads. A report by MPs revealed that overcrowding on public transport can possibly cause travelers to undergo trauma. Hong Kong’s public transit is a nightmare during rush hour. The crowds fill up the entire platform and spill out into the passageways and onto the stairs. According to Johann Smith, a businessman who takes Dubai Metro daily to travel to Dubai International Financial Centre, while it is not the perfect depiction of dog-eat-dog picture yet, he sees it heading that way soon, ‘At the moment, no one pushes and shoves. They stand alone in their misery, with beady eyes looking out for the first available seat. It’s the same story every day. Because of my height and the lack of space in the compartments, I always have someone’s armpit in my face.’ Commuting more than 30 million passengers since its launch, Dubai Metro is constantly experiencing an increase in the number of people on each train but unfortunately the space and seating in compartments stays limited. Reviews and voices differ on the severity of the issue but the message is clear, ‘It’s overcrowded; RTA needs to make changes or I come home every evening smelling like a thousand different people.’ Ramadan Abdullah, Director of Rail Operations at RTA responded by saying, ‘Convenience of commuters is our top priority.’
Synonymous to fast-tracked life, Europe is already a step ahead once again as it introduced an indicator app that particularly focuses on helping passengers with mobility problems. A number to techniques can be put to use in order to avoid constant overcrowding. Changing service frequencies and even simply communicating better with the public can help reach a better solution in this regard.
Public transport is free of any cost in many countries, and believe it or not, the list is long and customer satisfaction rate is higher than ever. It only reflects effective planning and huge concern for public convenience on part of those who are running the show.
New York, with the influx of commuters from within and outside the city, manages to offer relatively inexpensive, convenient and efficient public transportation. With the implementation of the MetroCard system, the present fare for a subway or local bus ride has gone down to only $2.50, thwarting the cab system in the back seat for the time being. Unlike Europe and US, Dubai taxi fares are calculated purely on distance rather than time. This provides a significant advantage to commuters as traffic jams are a way of life and much of time may be wasted in the back of a cab trying to make way out of it. Fares for the Dubai Metro range from a minimum Dh1.8 to a maximum Dh6.5 for a single journey, depending on the distance covered. Government also runs public buses charging reasonable fares to facilitate mobility through the region.
Having a means of transportation that is fast enough to drop you to your destination in time, offers a safe journey without you getting robbed or bullied in your way and hardly undergoes any technical failure resulting in a pause in your journey – is nothing but a blessing.
New York’s underground mass transit system is considered to be the fastest means to travel within the city. It is used daily by millions of ordinary people including Michael Bloomberg, the current mayor of the city. So if a subway is good enough for the mayor, it definitely is good enough for the general public. The credit goes to management for maintaining such superior level of service. Commenting on Dubai’s Metro, a commuter was all applause for the service, ‘I finally got my head around traveling without the aid of a driver, it was fine cheap way to travel, quick and cool!’ Another observed, ‘Although taxis are cheap the Metro is very efficient, fun and very cheap. So clean and always on time. Everyone is very polite and helpful. It’s no London Underground !!!!’ Besides its extensive network of taxis and rails, Dubai also offers a special extra transportation option, a little boat called the Abbra. Abbra rides are full of fun and adventure yet cheap – costing only 1 dirham per person.
According to survey carried out across UAE, over 40% of the respondents said they would use public transport if it was more accessible, 31% said they didn’t use it because of the crowds while 22% blamed lack of hygiene and 33% it was perceived as unsafe for women. Hence, public transits, offering safety, reliability and speed, validate the fact that superior mobility management has been implemented by the authorities for better customer experience.
‘I think about my past emotional experiences from both living near and far from public transit. When I used to live near transit, it was hard for me to appreciate how comfortable and convenient access to transportation can be. However, after experiencing two years in California, a place where buses were only found after a 30 minute drive, I learned to appreciate the importance of accessible transportation systems as a means to enrich living standards’, commented Ji Yon, an intern at CityNet.
New Yorkers look to mass transit as their mode of choice. Nearly one-third of the 8.8 million workers in the New York metro area use the system, by far the best rate in the nation. In New York’s densest pockets, some 80% of commuters use mass transit. The Big Apple and outlying suburbs are home to nearly half of the nation’s 7.5 million mass-transit commuters. The only reason behind these swelled statistics is that the network coverage is well-planned out. New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is the largest in the nation, with 422 rail lines and bus routes and 2,057 track miles throughout the region. The MTA’s Web site boasts that the transit system removes some 3 million drivers from the roads each day, covering as many routes as there can be.
Although Dubai Metro has many benefits of offer but the accessibility issue is the one that still needs attention. Dubai Metro takes the commuters to certain more popular places like the Dubai Mall, the Mall of Emirates or the Dubai Creek. Also, Dubai Mall Station will not lead a commuter right into Dubai Mall. Once they alight, they either have to walk for some 15 minutes to the mall or take a shuttle to go over. Doesn’t sound like a good experience, does it?
New Yorkers are famous for complaining about their subway system’s grim shabbiness. According to them despite an ever-increasing rise in fares, service never seems to get any better. On the other hand, Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Corporation, managing the subway and bus systems since 2006, is considered the gold standard in cleanliness for transits worldwide. According to a Hong Konger, ‘The trains are safe, clean and dependable.’ So, if one place excels in one aspect to offer fine customer experience, it chokes on the other. In a most recent survey, San Francisco metro area topped the list of America’s cleanest commutes, Honolulu ranked second and Washington, D.C., with its extensive subway system, ranked third. The Seattle and New York City metro areas rounded up to the top five. Dubai Metro has received positive feedback for maintaining high cleanliness standards. The secret to its amazing sanitation relates to RTA’s decision of Intercare employment. Its stringent quality procedures ensure that the Metro ride is not only serving its purpose of transportation but is also giving its commuters a very pleasant experience. ‘All trains and stations are extremely clean and fully air conditioned with platform edge doors to make this possible,’ praises a customer.
There is nothing more upsetting than travelling to a foreign land and discovering that you are alien to their systems and on top of that, you are unable to follow the instructions just because they forgot to write it in English. Putting it this way, an article posted in 710 Study San Rafael Neighborhood Posts states, “If you’ve traveled at all, chances are you’ve had that uncomfortable moment of trying to navigate a foreign city’s public transportation system. Signs and instructions aren’t in your mother tongue and the train lines look far different than the ones you’re used to at home. In most cases, you’re left to your own devices—to either awkwardly ask for the help of strangers, or to just wing it and see what happens.” Dubai’s Central Bus Station is well equipped in this regard as it displays timetables, maps & bus passes and all routes & bus numbers in both Arabic and English. The subway system is complex however. Lines merge and divide into trunk routes – the trunk routes are the colors on the maps and station signage. So if a commuter is going far out, he must pay attention to the destination announcements since multiple routes are located on the same track. When Australia went overboard by equipping all major city streets with labels in English followed by the languages of the dominated ethnic community of the area, in no time, influx of commuters from all around the world to Australia led to an immense boost to the overall economy.
In UAE, the stations are named according to the malls or companies that pay to have stations named after them. This can be quite baffling for a commuter if he is not familiar with the norm. The metro station lags behind in displaying clear signs that can lead to a confounding customer experience. This, yet again, refers to lack of management’s attentions towards the fact that the diverse population of the land necessitates such barriers to be subjugated.
Another survey on public transport use in the region revealed a surprising finding that majority of Gulf residents have shunned the use of public transport due to cultural insensitivities and lack of education. One of the biggest reasons for not using public transport includes a perception that it is only for the labour class, said the report. Taking a taxi is another alternative but most of the taxi drivers come from other countries with poor command over English language that they are hardly able to convey their point across, and lack of area knowledge. These factors prove to be discouraging for a foreign commuter to go for a taxi ride even again.
All of the above stated issues relate directly or indirectly to Mobility Management. Delays and long waits at stops, overcrowding, staff’s attitude, fares, coverage of routes, cleanliness and cultural and lingual barrier – all these factors, that affect customer experience either negatively or positively, can be successfully managed by administering and implementing effective mobility management strategies.
Public transportation is critical to this nation’s future. Governments need to realize the fact that public transport is by far used by absolute majority of the population, hence it is imperative to invest more capital in improving public transport infrastructure. Radical measures should be adopted to facilitate customer experiences. For example, multiple technologies can be integrated in the transportation infrastructure, such as metro rail, light rail, bus rapid transit and basic bus services. Government can issue a common ticket or fare card that works for all the systems to make it easier for passengers to travel through one commute to the other. Introduction of automated passenger information systems can enable users to understand the routes and stations easily, saving them a lot of hassle and stress. Taking customer experiences to a whole new level, Los Angeles’ newest rail line offers transportation and art exhibit all in one to its commuters. The rail line displays mini-galleries for public art through all the stations the rail runs through. Going for creative ways to enhance customer experiences can serve as a windfall for commuters, who can fairly decipher authorities’ efforts to make their journey as convenient and pleasant as possible.
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