Uncategorized — May 15, 2011 2:03 — 0 Comments
‘What’s New’ at the M.T.A.? ‘Higher Prices!’
“What’s new?” the Metropolitan Transportation Authority asks in its new marketing campaign — the perpetually beleaguered transit agency’s latest attempt to turn around straphanger sentiment.
“Less mystery,” replies one poster, pointing out that riders can receive text and e-mail alerts about delays and service changes. “Connecting more with you,” responds another, noting that the agency’s Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube accounts have all been revamped.
A third advertisement answers the question with a list that concludes on a hopeful bit of punctuation, the onward-and-upward ellipsis: “Better connections, better bus service, better trips, better info, better bridges, better …”
the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s latest effort in reputation enhancement.
One such poster, spotted on an uptown no. 1 local train the other night, already featured one rider’s hand-written rejoinder, scrawled in an angry blue ink.
“What’s new?” the poster asks. “Higher prices!” replied the marker-toting wag.
The graffiti points to the vast public relations difficulties of an agency whose very nature — operating a system that virtually every New Yorker depends on — makes it a lightning rod for all manner of criticism, deserved and not.
The agency, increasingly wary of politicians’ criticism and less than flattering news coverage, has been trying a direct-marketing approach in making riders aware of the work it is doing to improve the transportation experience.
The new slate of promotional posters, to be displayed in subways, buses and commuter rails and on some station walls, is a complement to the agency’s “Improving, Nonstop” campaign, started earlier this year. the idea was to remove outdated slogans — “Going your Way” is now gone — and create a more streamlined, simpler aesthetic for the agency to inform its clientele.
“There was a feeling that the M.T.a. hadn’t been as effective as we could be in communicating things that are going on to our customers,” said Jeremy Soffin, a spokesman for the transportation authority. “This is a way of trying to improve that.”
The “What’s New?” posters advertise faster buses on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan, a result of new bus-only lanes and sidewalk kiosks that allow riders to buy their tickets before boarding. “We said we’d make buses go faster, and we did,” the ad says proudly.
Another poster discusses improvements to the Henry Hudson Bridge toll plaza, where E-ZPass users no longer have to wait for a mechanical arm to rise before driving through. One ad promotes the agency’s newly consolidated help lines and provides three customer service telephone numbers for riders to use.
“What’s New?” the ad asks. “Fewer phone num6ers.” (The numeral 6 is not a typo.)
“Rather than having a scattered campaign with different message and designs, it hangs together,” mr. Soffin, the spokesman, said.
It remains unclear whether the new advertisements have achieved their intended effect. the authority said it had received only anecdotal responses to the posters, and it would not comment further.
A Decal That’s Friendlier, to Bikers and Cabs Alike
the newly approved decal.
Over 20 years in the New York City taxi business, Warren Prosky has seen all manner of calamity befall the beat-up steel-frame doors of his Brooklyn-based fleet of yellow cabs.
“Fling open the door and you hit another car, hit a pedestrian. most recently, you hit other bicyclists,” mr. Prosky said on the telephone the other day. “Ever since Mayor Bloomberg put all these bicycle lanes throughout the city, the bicyclists are at more risk now than they ever were.”
That may not be technically true — the city’s Department of Transportation maintains that bicyclists are safer now than at any other time in the city’s history — but “dooring,” a longtime scourge of the city’s bicycling class, remains a dangerous prospect for anyone trying to navigate the streets on two wheels. Taxicabs, which sometimes make up the bulk of vehicular traffic in Manhattan, are a prime culprit.
Mr. Prosky, a third-generation taxi operator, decided that action had to be taken. So he designed an informational decal, simple and short, to be pasted on the rear windows of yellow cabs, where passengers can clearly see them. the message: “Please Exit Curbside and Watch for Cyclists.”
A group of fleet owners brought mr. Prosky’s idea to the city’s attention, and last week, the decal was approved by the Taxi and Limousine Commission for inclusion in yellow cabs.
“Bicyclists can be surprised by the unexpected opening of a door,” David S. Yassky, the taxi commissioner, said in an interview. “We’re always on the hunt for modest improvements in street safety and curbside safety. I think it’s a nice idea.”
Mr. Prosky recalled that years ago, taxi interiors were often festooned with a hodgepodge of stickers and decals. Then the city called for a cleanup.
“It was a beautiful thing for our industry,” he said of the de-stickered cabs. “But there are certain stickers which are necessary to remind the passenger about their safety, as well as the person right outside the cab, when people open up doors.”
The clear decal, 3.5 by 4 inches, will not be mandatory. “Hopefully, it will limit everybody’s liability, and make the streets safer,” mr. Prosky said.
Bike advocates expressed their support. “This is another positive step toward helping cyclists, drivers and pedestrians share our streets safely,” e-mailed Michael Murphy, a spokesman for Transportation Alternatives.
Cab trips often end with a Taxi TV reminder to remove any belongings and watch out for cyclists. But mr. Yassky conceded that the sticker could prove more effective.
“Lots of people don’t pay attention, and don’t necessarily read that screen,” he said.
Our transit reporter, Michael M. Grynbaum, advises you on the latest chatter from the city’s roads and rails. Check back every Monday. got a tip? he can be reached at .