A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NJ Transit Favors Ads Over Customers at Newark Penn Station

New Jersey Transit runs ads on their display monitors on the tracks at Newark Penn Station. Unfortunately, those monitors are also supposed to tell you which train is next to arrive or currently in the station, as well as provide a list of the train's scheduled stops and final destination. It does no good if, as in the picture to the left, the train arrives and the ad has been occupying the screen for the past three minutes.

You see, the ads are displayed on the schedule screens between trains, which is fine up to a point, but the computers are slow and can't clear the ads fast enough, and people need train information during rush hour more than they need something to buy.

In this instance, an Amtrak train had been in the station on Track 4 circa 6:48 pm. The whitish display of the Amtrak schedule was on the monitor while the train was in the station. When the Amtrak train left, an ad appeared on the screen and stayed until the 6:53 pm Jersey Avenue train started to pull into the station. The monitor sluggishly changes displays, line by line, probably for thirty seconds but it seems like hours.

The picture above shows the 6:53 pm train in the station, doors about to open, and the display with the red Jersey Avenue schedule is only halfway formed -- across the top half of the screen. The part of the screen that would tell riders whether the train stops at their particular stop is covered by the ad across the bottom half of the screen.

This is the same problem commuters had with these displays several months ago, when NJ Transit tried instituting this advertising scheme the first time. It seems they gave a polite pause and launched the same program without revisions.

No doubt NJ Transit needs the ad revenue, and I honestly don't begrudge them, but they need to think of their customers first. And that's something, I'm sorry to say, NJ Transit employees haven't been doing much of lately. Customer care at trackside is absolutely abysmal. I helped two customers today after they were ignored my conductors. One was an Amtrak employee, to be sure, but I have to say that train conductors need some heavy training on how to interact courteously with their riders.

1 comment:

  1. The ads were gone this evening. I hope NJ Transit can find the right hardware and/or software to run the monitors the way they want and still meet their basic requirement to serve their ridership's need for transit information.