All Aboard!

The large button in the middle of the doors flashes, blinking lights, with a large font ‘OPEN’ and surrounded by signs indicating that to open doors, one must press this button. Reinforced by the repeating announcement that to open the doors, one must press the ‘open the door’ button. Erm… 

The train pulls into each station and the announcement also insists that we ‘mind the gap’. A nice reference to London’s Underground, but stepping off the train, there is no gap. There is a step down but no gap. Perhaps this ‘gap’ is the cultural reference mismatch. Umm…

Sitting in the train, there are no displays indicating if it is an express or local, or what the next station is. There are no indicators of what line this train is. Each slowing of the train announces the open button and the gap, but is usually interrupted by a different announcement about the line and the next station. Too bad if you are hearing impaired, listening to music, or simply lost in thought. The train stops and you peer up and down the platform to find the station name. There is a small display just above the doors which is not visible unless you are standing at the door. So…?

And the automated repeating announcements refer to passengers as ‘customers’. No. I’m not receiving ‘custom’ while on a train, I am receiving a ride via a publicly-funded mode of transport – odd that we have to pay twice. I have not bought anything. And no, I did not even buy a ticket – it’s all electronic. So where does the ‘customer’ definition come in? Not as if we can choose a different train or take one home at the end of the trip.

The mixed-messages and mislabelling indicate myriad misfortunes for tax-paying citizenry.

By infantilising people with the obvious, no doubt due to some clumsy idiot who once stumbled off a train, any possible point of danger must be exploded. This is how western law completely fails to engender society with personal responsibility. 

By making irrelevant and unfunny references, psychological dissonance results in everyone from foreign visitors to nationals completely unaware of the reference. For those in the know, the joke is dead by the third stop.

By obscuring the most salient information, every time the train slows increases anxiety – is this my stop and what line is this? People who recognise landmarks do not even bother with announcements or signs. A dearth of effective communication.

By calling passengers ‘customers’, Queensland Rail advances the idiotic dogma of neoliberalism where we are no longer citizens despite everyone below the upper classes paying tax – and the fare, too. If we are only customers, why then do we need passports and drivers licences and proof of address? Money is money and does not care about your feelings. 

Deeper conflicts arise when we claim to value democracy.

So, aaaalllll aboard! Don’t you worry about that. Down the road in a couple of years…