I’ve been travelling into work here at UCT via the train for quite a couple of years now. And to be honest, I really don’t mind it at all. Using the train has a number of advantages, the most compelling one being the cost effectiveness of it as a mode of transport. If I was to travel into Cape Town with my car every morning, I could easily be looking at a monthly petrol cost of R900 upwards – compared to the R130 I spend on a monthly first class train ticket. Then there is the whole missing of traffic advantage which I thoroughly enjoy because I absolutely loathe traffic and the N1 into Cape Town is becoming more of a nightmare with each passing year.
The service that Metrorail offers really isnt all that bad either – I would say that the peak hour trains fun on schedule 90% of the time. Unfortunately their ever decreasing number of active train sets is pushing the percentage likelihood of getting a seat downwards, but this should be resolved when they can start pushing out the new train sets which need to be secured for the upcoming 2010 World Cup (so the tournament does actually benefit me in a small way :D) and the sets currently undergoing maintenance – the recent spate of train crashes and major vandalism against the trains has really contributed to this number :(
So all in all, I like the train service. Generally.
What bugs me to no end though is when something does go wrong. Metrorail has a nasty habit of keeping information under wraps. You will be standing on the station only to hear the announcer say: Train 3506, the 6:30 train from Somerset to Cape Town via Maitland has been delayed for 30 minutes. We apologise for the inconvenience caused. Or even worse, Train 3245 the 7:00 train to Bellville has been cancelled. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.
And thats it. Thats all they will say. A hollow apology for the inconvenience and thats it. Damn it, surely they could tell us why the bloody thing isnt arriving when it is meant to. People are curious by nature. We are creatures of logic and reason. We want to know the reason behind anything and everything. Metrorail could save itself a lot of grumbling by simply adding a little more info to their broadcasts. If the train is delayed because of a power outage, tell us. If the train is delayed due to cable theft, let us know. That way you shift the blame from yourself and leave your customers grumbling at the thieves or the weather, but not you Metrorail.
Man, do I have to do all their thinking for them!?