Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Silence is golden..

.. but not if you work for London Underground.

Canary Wharf station, for all its grandeur, is one big platform. This morning, we were treated to two competing streams of commentary from platform staff on each side, interspersed with relays of their conversations with the control room, and overlaid with the more routine system announcements ("I am pleased to announce we have a good service on the Jubilee Line", "Slight delays on the Metropolitan Line", "Always touch in and touch out", "Always keep your belongings with you").

And when I got on the train, some loon seems to have decided it's a good idea to thank us for travelling on the Jubilee Line. At every station. And the scrolling visual display says "Attention! Attention! Thank you for for travelling...."

And none of this was information anyone really needed to know.

We do not need to be thanked for travelling on the tube. We have no choice.

We do not need to be told there's a good service running. London Underground has no choice - that's their job.

Millions and millions of people have managed to use the tube successfully using just their wits and printed signage. Those who can't, for whatever reason, usually manage to find someone to ask if there's something they need to know.

Back in May, on the Going Underground blog, there was some lively debate about announcements, and a train driver listed some of the scheduling instructions management had issued: far too much, far too often, of course.

Here's my suggestion:

Only make an announcement when something goes wrong
Then we'll know we need to listen to it.

The more people are lectured about things they've heard a thousand times before, the less notice anyone takes. It just becomes blah, blether and bedlam. Ever heard of the boy who cried "Wolf!"?

So, please, just step away from the microphone and SHUT UP.

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