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The Many Faces Of Commuter Fustration
July 12, 2014 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Attention Tim O'Toole : You are the CEO of First Capital Connect and my train is late almost every day. I'm going to change your face every time my train is delayed. (SLTP)
posted by The Whelk (49 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Twenty-two minutes late, badger ate a junction box at New Malden."
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 4:03 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


Troubling yet percipient.
posted by aesop at 4:13 PM on July 12


Oh my god. Can I get this for whoever is in charge of the downtown #2 train in NYC please?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:14 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


This is creepy. Especially the "make you look like you've been beaten up" picture.
I hope the person this is aimed at never gets to see it.
posted by zoo at 4:18 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Some of these are delightful. I assume this is the CEO of the train company that is routinely late?
posted by Dip Flash at 4:23 PM on July 12


I'm an idiot. I looked at the date stamp and thought, well, once a month being late isn't so bad.
posted by mochapickle at 4:27 PM on July 12


Many of these are for being less than five minutes late, which seems petty.

One of these is "CHARGED OLD LADY FOR SITTING IN 1ST ON FULL TRAIN" which does indeed call for the rearranging of a face.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:28 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


> I assume this is the CEO of the train company that is routinely late?

yep
posted by ardgedee at 4:39 PM on July 12


I hope the person this is aimed at never gets to see it.

He's seen it. "CEO says alterations are 'an improvement'"
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 4:41 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


less than five minutes late, which seems petty

No, trains are supposed to run to a schedule. It is not a difficult thing to do.
posted by bhnyc at 4:44 PM on July 12 [11 favorites]


Not so fond of the rape jokes on his "why am I doing this?" page.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 4:44 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]


Many of these are for being less than five minutes late, which seems petty.

Yes but I used to have a boss who flipped his shit if I was five minutes late for work. If I had taken a train that regularly got me there 5 minutes late, I would have to take one train earlier to make sure I was there on time. That would probably mean leaving my house to start work a half hour earlier than I needed to which would SUCK.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:51 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


There is a new franchise* beginning in September, so this fellow will get some new faces to play with soon.

*Don't ask what this means in reality. It's such a nakedly corporate welfare model.
posted by Thing at 4:53 PM on July 12


Metro North riders should read this, lol.
posted by sundrop at 5:00 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


If an average delay of five minutes warrants photoshop jobs than the riders of MTA/Metro-North have the right to burn down the villages of the owners.
posted by The Whelk at 5:21 PM on July 12 [10 favorites]


Many of them are surprisingly good. I kinda wish I had a train of my own, to get my own caricatures.
Also so I could pull the levers and make chuffing noises.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:23 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


There is a new franchise* beginning in September, so this fellow will get some new faces to play with soon.
*Don't ask what this means in reality. It's such a nakedly corporate welfare model.


England's trains are roughly the equivalent of American health care.
posted by srboisvert at 5:25 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


England's trains are way better than americas trains however.
posted by aubilenon at 5:27 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Love the Blade Runner homage.

"I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Men in tears at Norwood Junction. Women fainting on the “dark stretch” between Horley and Croydon. I’ve seen vomit in Balcombe and smelt some of the finest B.O. in Sussex."
posted by Yowser at 5:47 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


England's trains are way better than America's healthcare, too.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:11 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


The Pat Butcher one's going to give me some nightmares.
posted by penguin pie at 6:17 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Many of these are for being less than five minutes late, which seems petty.

1. My job entails designing the flow of train traffic. If a newly-installed train system routinely ran 5 minutes late, our company would be thrown on the mat and beaten.

2. 5 minutes * number of passengers who work hourly * average hourly wages = hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost wages.

3. 5 minutes * number of passengers who work salaried (but can't stay late to make up time) * average hourly salary = thousands of hours of work paid for but not done.

4. It's a train schedule, not a dinner party. 8:01 am means exactly that. The train doesn't even berth for more than a couple minutes.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:10 PM on July 12 [11 favorites]


This one is delightfully creepy.
posted by arcticseal at 8:17 PM on July 12


Tim, A' Tool.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:20 PM on July 12


There's a reason why Mussolini said he made the trains run on time.
posted by Small Dollar at 9:31 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


No, trains are supposed to run to a schedule. It is not a difficult thing to do.

Actually, it turns out that it is an extremely difficult thing to do. Which is why they often don't.

Trains run on rails, and often they cannot overtake one another. So if one train is late, for whatever reason, it often percolates through the whole system for the whole day.
Often, the reasons for being late are outside the control of the train company, such as: bad wheather, children playing on the tracks, theft of copper cables (that's increasingly a thing), suicide attempts, etc. etc.

Trains running late seems to be a common nuisance in most countries, except, perhaps, in Japan, where train scheduling is apparently an example of the Anna Karenina principle at work.

Interestingly, when it comes to flying, people seem to be totally OK if flights are routinely delayed by 30 min or more. Or with the fact that everyone needs to take off their shoes before boarding...
posted by sour cream at 11:55 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Many of these are for being less than five minutes late, which seems petty.

Those 5 minutes often mean waiting for 30 instead of 5 minutes for your connecting bus. Connections become useless if your train is routinely late, even if it's just a few minutes every time.
posted by wachhundfisch at 12:01 AM on July 13 [9 favorites]


Interestingly, when it comes to flying, people seem to be totally OK if flights are routinely delayed by 30 min or more. Or with the fact that everyone needs to take off their shoes before boarding...

What Internet are you reading? Do people also not complain about other people looking at their phones too much there?
posted by bleep at 12:03 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


I took First Capital Connect trains for two years. Any time I want to scare my London-based friends about the creeping privatisation of the NHS, I say simply:

"Imagine your local hospital and ambulance services being run by First Capital Connect."

It's a remarkably effective tactic. They are truly awful and absolute poster children for the downsides of privatisation.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:24 AM on July 13 [10 favorites]


Most of these delays are due to a congested network and that's really more a Network Rail issue than an FCC thing. Not that this makes it any less annoying for commuters, obviously.
posted by atrazine at 3:04 AM on July 13


less than five minutes late, which seems petty

Two minutes can be an eternity during rush hour in London when the platform behind you is getting crowded until people can't access it and it has to be temporarily cordoned off. Five minutes can be a real issue.
posted by ersatz at 4:07 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I should also point out a fact that many North Americans won't be aware of: commuting on this line costs a major percentage of the average income.

I used to commute on this exact line, and probably will again. It cost me between 23% and 45% of my income at various times over a period of 20 years.
posted by tel3path at 7:09 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Five minutes can be a real issue.

Not least because only the very fortunate few in London have a single-train commute. Most people average two, three or four trains for a single journey (including Tube lines). Five minutes on each of those adds up to an extra 20 minutes; in practice that easily becomes 40-50 minutes when all the connections are missed.
posted by bonaldi at 7:19 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


It cost me between 23% and 45% of my income at various times over a period of 20 years.

That is a far higher percent than owning a car costs me and more than I would have guessed. How much does one trip, or a month pass, cost a commuter? Are they charged separately for each leg (train/bus/tube) or is it an integrated system?
posted by Dip Flash at 7:25 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


It's integrated enough that you can pay all at once, but going into the city and then taking a connecting train/bus/tube costs more.

At one time I was able to park at a cheap (GBP 70.00 per month) parking lot close to the train station and then walk to my workplace from the mainline station in London. That was sweet because I could keep the cost of commuting down to GBP 400.00 a month, at least until the following year when the fares went up. Good times.
posted by tel3path at 7:36 AM on July 13


Hit send too soon. Right now gas to or from work costs me around GBP 10.00, so that would be GBP 100.00 per week if I didn't work from home at all. (Which, lately, I don't.) Then once a year, tax, MOT, annual service, parking permit, and insurance add up to around GBP 1600.00. A six-month service can be around 200.00 depending. So... 480.00 per month to commute by car alone, give or take? That's almost certainly a bit less than going by train would be right now. Mind you, I still have to pay the 1800 per year for car maintenance and insurance/tax, etc., regardless of whether I'm also routinely travelling by train. So it depends how you look at it.
posted by tel3path at 7:44 AM on July 13


England's trains are way better than America's healthcare, too.

Privatized, nominally regulated, exorbitantly expensive, completely opaque and complicated pricing system, serves only the profitable, and with seemingly random service interruptions, denials and delays.

Which am I talking about, England's trains or America's Healthcare?

I lived in England for seven years and saw more of Europe than England because it was always cheaper to fly to another country than take the train from Birmingham to just about anywhere. That's a broken rail system.
posted by srboisvert at 8:29 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I'd still rather be sick in a British train than in an American hospital. I doubt the porter will charge me $80,000 to clean up my barf.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:38 AM on July 13


sour cream: Trains run on rails, and often they cannot ever, ever overtake one another, unless there is an emergency, in which case one car is taken out of service for the day. So if one train is late, for whatever reason, it often percolates through the whole system for the whole day.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:20 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


they cannot ever, ever overtake one another
They do this all the time in London - one will be moved onto the slow line to get out of the way of the trains running on time. Also, trains can be switched to run "fast" (eg skipping stations they were supposed to stop at) to get back on schedule. Quite often, a train that's gone seriously late will just get cancelled entirely.

All of which is to say that one late train often doesn't percolate through the system. If it did London's trains would be unusably chaotic (quiet, you at the back)
posted by bonaldi at 12:22 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


On this particular line, track-switching isn't possible. So if one train is held up all the trains behind it are held up.
posted by tel3path at 1:03 PM on July 13


I commute on FCC, though not on the same line as this chap. Turns out I can't describe the experience without it turning into a multiple-paragraph rant, so let's just leave it at: I understand his frustration at even the shortest of delays, and when I move house, it will be to somewhere not on my current train line.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:22 PM on July 13


So basically, it sounds as if the UK pays the insane quantities of cash we pay for healthcare for the privilege of commuting? Ouch.

(I'd still rather have single payer health care here, though...currently paying down $3000 of deductibles that the hospital has told me will get passed over to collections whether or not I pay the agreed-upon monthly payment plan...)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:25 PM on July 13


Not necessarily the UK, mostly London and the southeast. I live in Edinburgh and pay about £50 a month for my travel pass, which covers all bus/tram travel, including my hour-long commute across the city.

(Oh, mind you - for a while I did half the commute by rail and it cost me an extra £60 a month, so train charging is a part of it, but location is a massive factor)
posted by penguin pie at 2:54 PM on July 13


If you take just one train, the lateness isn't necessarily a killer. You're late as much as the train is late. But if you have to transfer, and take two, three trains, then that's when it can really screw up your commute time. It's the same as changing flights--when your flight is late, you miss your connecting flight, and it just cascades downhill from there.
posted by zardoz at 6:30 PM on July 13


Yes but I used to have a boss who flipped his shit if I was five minutes late for work. If I had taken a train that regularly got me there 5 minutes late, I would have to take one train earlier to make sure I was there on time. That would probably mean leaving my house to start work a half hour earlier than I needed to which would SUCK.

Ugh fuck this shit. I've had this boss. One day i got pulled over by an asshole cop(to be written a $150 or something no helmet on a bicycle ticket, and when i told him it was going to make me late for work he held me extra long to rant at me) and i was in trouble until i produced the ticket and some other info, even though one of my coworkers had seen being pulled over. Even though it only made me 6 minutes late.

I also used to ride a really unreliable/unpredictable bus to school every day. It took between 45 minutes and an hour and 20 minutes to get there. In addition to this, it was consistently late. Sometimes a minute or two, sometimes 20 minutes or even a half hour.

So you had to plan your entire day around this stupid ass bus. Realistically, this meant basically being at the stop 2 hours before you needed to be somewhere.

Of course, that's fucking stupid and i never did that because seriously?. I would go "look, the schedule says it takes 50 minutes, i give them an hour and 20, take the the bus two earlier than the one i theoretically need, and i get there 5 minutes before the bus is supposed to come. what do you really expect me to do?" Some teachers had no soul and would just tell me to go stand out there at 6am for an 8:30 class, and refused to help me out with what i had missed if i was late to class. Others realized that lots of kids took that bus, and if we all showed up late or at least several of us in a group then it was probably the bus. Just one kid? Probably didn't leave early enough.

God was it terrible. It was a fucking life changer to move and only have to take buses that actually ran on time.
posted by emptythought at 7:34 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I commute on this line from north of London, and really the delays are the least of the problems (and actually not that bad compared to the other line I used to commute on (also run by FCC)).

As mentioned already, rail ticket prices in the UK are particularly unfunny joke, especially for those of us with the need to travel into London every day. It's the obvious lack of investment that really grates though. Stations on this line have the ability to accommodate twelve carriage trains, yet frequently my fellow commuters and I find ourselves crammed into just four knackered old carriages. People unfortunate enough to want to get on one of these trains at Cricklewood for instance will find themselves presented with a train that resembles an Escher tesselation - every apparent gap is actually just another commuter.

No one would give a toss about 5 minute delays so long as they could stop paying ludicrous sums for the privilege of spending 30 minutes in uncomfortable proximity with complete strangers.
posted by jonnyploy at 3:08 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


bonaldi More: They do this all the time in London - one will be moved onto the slow line to get out of the way of the trains running on time.

My apologies - by coincidence, I was just told by a coworker last week that there's no way for a commuter rail to recover. I'm sure if I mentioned this, that knowitall would say, "Oh, sure, except for the London system..."

I'm a newbie in this industry, and I guess I really don't know shit. Sigh.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:15 AM on July 14


... knackered old carriages...

Don't worry, they have new trains coming! ... in 2016...

No one would give a toss about 5 minute delays so long as they could stop paying ludicrous sums for the privilege of spending 30 minutes in uncomfortable proximity with complete strangers.

Fair. Honourable mention, though, to the stunning lack of helpful communication when things go wrong. It's lovely to know that my ticket is valid on the London Underground when there's a signalling failure at Welwyn Garden City, but without a train to get me to the edge of the Tube network, it's not really what I'd call useful information.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:51 PM on July 14


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