Putting passengers off

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Taunton

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I had to do a couple of trips round south London today, and it struck me the number of messages around which just seem designed to put people off choosing to travel by train altogether increases every year. It must make the marketing team, and rail supporters, despair.

On London Overground out to Croydon, at every one of the many stations there were constant scrolling messages and PA announcements about being sure you have got just the right ticketing, otherwise there will be Penalty Fares. Notices elsewhere were about this, multiple references to prosecution and the implied threat that you will end up with a criminal record if you don't get your ticket usage just right. At the start of the trip at Canada Water there was a notice about how you will be overcharged if you didn't used the pink Oyster reader (which was in an obscure corner), while on the Croydon Tram there were multiple notices about what you had to do to avoid getting overcharged (and maybe penalised) that were so longwinded that I never got to the end of them or understood quite what they were going on about before the tram came.

There were severe notices to mothers with babies in pushchairs that, compared to anyone in a wheelchair, they are very much second class citizens.

Then there are all the cautions about imminent crime, which seem to multiply by the year. LO also constantly did both a scrolling message and a PA announcement about keeping your belongings tightly with you to "reduce crime". Hijacking the scrolling PIS for blah-blah messages seems to be very much a new toy for the purveyors of constant messages to take over. The Croydon tram onward to Wimbledon had self-congratulatory bold notices inside from two seemingly quite separate organisations in Croydon about them being "anti crime partnerships", presumably against things that have happened on the tram. There were a range of sundry notices about all this as well.

Is there any understanding that this constant reference to you being fined, taken to court or assaulted on these services is a real message of deterrent to using public transport. It must put a number of the more impressionable members of the travelling public right off.
 
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causton

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I don't see it that way, personally.

When I was younger, as many kids did, and many kids do, and many adults who should know better do, I may have evaded a few fares. I reckon if I saw more prominent signage about what could and would happen to me if I was caught, I might have paid the fare!

These days, it reassures you that there are people looking out for you, as in London a lot of crime does happen in this way so it would be ridiculous to pretend the possibility is not there and hide it, as people need to be prepared, and people need to know that the authorities are prepared for the eventualities.

For every 1 person scared off, there are probably many fare evaders who think that their chances are slimmer than they previously thought, and the punishment is worse than they thought and not worth it, and a few people who may have committed a crime may be deterred.
 
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You, Sir Taunton, are lucky enough to be part of the 99% who are good, honest citizens who have every right to feel annoyed by some of the posters.

They're only there to help us deal with the 1%.
 

yorkie

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You, Sir Taunton, are lucky enough to be part of the 99% who are good, honest citizens who have every right to feel annoyed by some of the posters.

They're only there to help us deal with the 1%.
That's not the view of Chiltern; an honest mistake can mean a hefty penalty.
A Penalty Fare is a charge that Chiltern Railways is allowed
to make under the Regulations and Rules. It is not a fine, and
anyone who is charged one is not being accused of avoiding,
or attempting to avoid, paying their fare.

‘Fare dodging’ is a completely different matter: it is a criminal
offence and we treat it as such by prosecuting offenders.
Meanwhile Northern, FirstGroup and others can treat people badly even if no mistake is made by the customer.

The message from some TOCs is pretty clear: don't you dare make a mistake (but we can make mistakes).

It's far from a level playing field....
 

DarloRich

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Is there any understanding that this constant reference to you being fined, taken to court or assaulted on these services is a real message of deterrent to using public transport. It must put a number of the more impressionable members of the travelling public right off.

I very much doubt it puts anyone off. If someone is put of travelling by such a messages the rest of the real world ,must be a terrible challenge for them. I would suggest most people don't listen to or see the messages.

Consider the times we see posters complaining about little or no information. Now we have complaints about LOTS of information!
 

VauxhallandI

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I am a little confused by the signs on my trains and the PIS telling me to make sure I have the right ticket.

If I'm on the train its too late, any attempt to correct results in a penalty
 

Greenback

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ATW have posters on trains saying that passengers must have a valid ticket before boarding the train, or words tot hat effect.

I reckon it's aimed at encouraging those who don't have a ticket not to do it again. I'm not sure how effective this is, but I imagine that if someone doesn't know that there is the possibility of a sizeable financial penalty and maybe a criminal record, then they might think twice about it, especially if they thought it was a trivial matter that would just result in being told 'Don't do it again'.
 

jimbo99

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Consider the times we see posters complaining about little or no information. Now we have complaints about LOTS of information!

But the thing is, it's not really useful information to travellers. You can be bombarded with this stuff but still not know where your train is going.

Imagine if the TOCs/NR ran Tescos:

"When using the self-checkout please ensure all items are scanned. Failure to scan could result in a prosecution for theft. Please be aware that during wet weather our car park might be slippery. If you see an abandoned trolley, please reported it to a member of staff or the police, abandoned trollies can cause accidents. If you are purchasing perishable food stuffs, please check the expiry date. Food consumed after the expiry date can cause sickness or death. If you are using a discount voucher, please check the conditions of use. Invalid vouchers may not be used in our stores."
 

Greenback

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Unfortunately, a lot of people try and use ignorance as a defence, as in 'I didn't know you had to buy a ticket before getting on the train' or variations on that theme.

I suppose that's one of the reasons why the number of posters and the amount of information presented to rail users has increased.

I don't suppose Tesco customers have tried the 'I didn't know I had to pay for my shopping before leaving the store' quite as much as passengers on the railway have.
 

FGW_DID

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But the thing is, it's not really useful information to travellers. You can be bombarded with this stuff but still not know where your train is going.

Imagine if the TOCs/NR ran Tescos:

"When using the self-checkout please ensure all items are scanned. Failure to scan could result in a prosecution for theft. Please be aware that during wet weather our car park might be slippery. If you see an abandoned trolley, please reported it to a member of staff or the police, abandoned trollies can cause accidents. If you are purchasing perishable food stuffs, please check the expiry date. Food consumed after the expiry date can cause sickness or death. If you are using a discount voucher, please check the conditions of use. Invalid vouchers may not be used in our stores."

Perhaps because today's default reactions to being told they can't do something / have done something wrong are:

"Where does it say that?"
"I never knew that!"
"Nobody told me"
"I'm gonna sue"
"You can't tell me to do that"

And so on and on.

It's why at Maccy Ds the coffee cups carry warnings about contents being hot; your packet of peanuts from the pub carry a warning "may contain nuts" (no s£!t Sherlock, I should hope the packet does).

It's why speed cameras were painted yellow because it was unfair that speeding motorists couldn't see them, errr how about not speeding in the first place!!

<D<D
 

Tetchytyke

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I very much doubt it puts anyone off. If someone is put of travelling by such a messages the rest of the real world ,must be a terrible challenge for them.

It doesn't put people off because train travel is normally a distress purchase, not many travel round London on trains for fun.

That said, I agree with the OP. The language the railway uses is not what one would call friendly. It's all about penalties and fines for doing a, or not doing b, or for getting on a train at 3pm with an off peak ticket, yadda yadda yadda.

As yorkie rightly points out, the messages of doom and gloom if you dare to make a mistake don't seem to be reciprocated when GoVia make yet another ballsup.

Consider the times we see posters complaining about little or no information. Now we have complaints about LOTS of information!

They're too sides of the same coin. Getting bombarded with information is as unhelpful as not getting anything. My boss was in London last week and panicked by the messages on the Victoria Line saying "no step free access"; she had absolutely no idea what this meant. We all know what it means, but it's not really very accessible language. You see this a lot on the railway: where else, in your entire life, have you used the word "vestibule", for instance?
 

Greenback

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I think you're right about too much information being as unhelpful as not enough information. I don't think the balance is right and I also think there's room for improvement when it comes to some of the wording used.

At the same time, I think there;s an argument that blunt language needs to be used in order to get the message across to the intended audience. Mind you, I do accept that it's arguable that many will take any notice, whatever wording or language a poster uses.
 

Tetchytyke

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At the same time, I think there;s an argument that blunt language needs to be used in order to get the message across to the intended audience.

The problem is that it isn't blunt language, it manages to be a garbled mess of threats made in impenetrable jargon. You get left with a sense of menace without knowing exactly what it is that will see you get a fine.

If it was "buy a ticket or we'll prosecute you, that includes you in the posh suit you scrounging swine" it wouldn't be half as bad.
 

Greenback

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You do have a point. As I said, there are improvements that can be made, and I quite like the idea of something along the lines of 'if you don't have a ticket you'll be prosecuted'!

I'm still not convinced that most the potential audience will even read such messages, never mind take any notice.
 

Clip

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You have to walk past the pink readers at Canada Water to get down/up the escalators from LO so theyre not in an obscure corner as the OP points out.

The many messages on LO are because people do still try and bunk the train as some exits on the line down there are not barriered and are so close to each other at times that many people do try and bunk the train and Ive seen many get caught too so warning those who may think about it is a good thing IMO.
 

Deepgreen

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Information is a perennial problem - getting the balance right is tricky and some will always want less/more. However, conciseness is achievable, although rarely actually done.

Two examples :
1. Southern trains that divide have a message that, for example, "this train will divide en route at Redhill". The "en route" element is redundant. However, conversely, these trains commonly go to Gatwick Airport and many passengers would benefit from having that station, being a special case, mentioned specifically in the portion summary message, which currently is "front four coaches for Three Bridges, rear four for Reigate". It would be far more useful to have this announced as "front four coaches for Three Bridges via Gatwick Airport", etc.

This was especially pertinent on my train last evening, when a family got on at the last minute at Victoria in the rear (Reigate) portion (in first class), heard the announcement about the split at Redhill and then consulted the network map in confusion. They asked a fellow passenger about the right place to be, and he said, "don't worry, it divides at Reigate and you'll have time to move then". I had to intervene to tell them it actually divided at Redhill, not Reigate, and the other passenger admitted he'd made a slip of the tongue, but one which could have cost them their flight! In the end they moved down the train near Coulsdon South, and I saw them sitting in the front portion when I alighted at Redhill (sitting in standard!"). Confusion all round which the "via Gatwick" phrase would probably have avoided. Also a case of not realising, or caring, about the difference between first and standard class.

2. GWR trains on the North Downs line have interminable 'security' messages and one which includes, on approaching Redhill, that "passengers should have their tickets or travel documents ready for inspection". Simply "tickets" would easily suffice, and this seems like embellishment for its own sake!

Two examples of seemingly insignificant information tweaks that, if extrapolated to a general review of the conciseness and relevance of information provision (as FGW had previously claimed they were doing), would make a positive difference to the perception and impact of information.
 
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Phil.

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Ne'er do wells who are avoiding fares/drinking too much/playing loud music/acting in an uncivilised manner are about as likely to read and heed a poster/sign as my dog is likely to become a train driver.
It ain't gonna happen folks!
 

Greenback

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Ne'er do wells who are avoiding fares/drinking too much/playing loud music/acting in an uncivilised manner are about as likely to read and heed a poster/sign as my dog is likely to become a train driver.
It ain't gonna happen folks!

Quite. Prosecution is neither a fear nor a deterrent to some of those who don't buy a ticket.
 

3141

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I'm more likely to get annoyed by large numbers of repetitive messages, and as Arctic Troll and others have suggested, by the implication that the operator is getting it all right and the passengers are pathetic.

But one thing I am confused by is pink Oyster readers and what they're for. When I've looked for explanations in TfL's Oyster leaflets and online I haven't found clear concise answers. Luckily I don't use LO much so the problem doesn't often occur.
 

Sprinter153

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Perhaps because today's default reactions to being told they can't do something / have done something wrong are:

"Where does it say that?"
"I never knew that!"
"Nobody told me"
"I'm gonna sue"
"You can't tell me to do that"

And so on and on.
<D<D

Agreed. The default response to anyone in a position of authority challenging something in this modern age is that rules and instructions apply to anyone but the person in the wrong unless it's printed in a signed first edition gilt-edged hardback by Mother Teresa. Usually followed by 'I know my rights' (having just Googled them and made their own interpretation to suit).
 

Tetchytyke

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But one thing I am confused by is pink Oyster readers and what they're for.

They are route validators for when you are travelling using Oyster/Contactless PAYG on (some) journeys when you have a choice of travelling via zone one or not.

If you touch the pink reader the system knows you avoided zone one, and so will charge you a lower fare. If you don't touch the pink reader it doesn't, so will charge you the (higher) via zone one fare.

http://www.oyster-rail.org.uk/route-validators-pink-readers/
 

al78

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Quite. Prosecution is neither a fear nor a deterrent to some of those who don't buy a ticket.

If the chance of prosecution is very low, and/or the perpetrator is big/thuggy/angry enough, then they hardly ever get challenged or can bully the guard away with threats, so no consequences for evasion. If there are no consequences to breaking the rules, then there will always be a subset of people who will break the rules and come out with some pathetic morally dead attempt to justify why their behaviour is perfectly fine.

It is similar to speeding motorists, they speed because there is little chance of getting caught, and if they do there is always the fallback of wailing to the Daily Mail about the poor hard-done-by persecuted motorist/why don't they go after real criminals/whatever dumb response they can come out with.
 

OneOffDave

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There were severe notices to mothers with babies in pushchairs that, compared to anyone in a wheelchair, they are very much second class citizens.

Well breeding is optional, buggies fold and babies can go on laps. None of that applies to wheelchair users. If it wasn't for people like me pushing for basic access rights over the past 35+ years access for everyone would be a damn sight worse.
 

GatwickDepress

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Well breeding is optional, buggies fold and babies can go on laps. None of that applies to wheelchair users. If it wasn't for people like me pushing for basic access rights over the past 35+ years access for everyone would be a damn sight worse.
Breeding. Let's keep that word for those employed in animal husbandry and those that name x-rated films.
 

GarethJohn

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ATW have posters on trains saying that passengers must have a valid ticket before boarding the train, or words tot hat effect.

I reckon it's aimed at encouraging those who don't have a ticket not to do it again. I'm not sure how effective this is, but I imagine that if someone doesn't know that there is the possibility of a sizeable financial penalty and maybe a criminal record, then they might think twice about it, especially if they thought it was a trivial matter that would just result in being told 'Don't do it again'.

Even though it's impossible to do so on a large percentage of it's stations. That message must reassure those who travel irregularly when they get on that they haven't committed an offence.
 

3141

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They are route validators for when you are travelling using Oyster/Contactless PAYG on (some) journeys when you have a choice of travelling via zone one or not.

If you touch the pink reader the system knows you avoided zone one, and so will charge you a lower fare. If you don't touch the pink reader it doesn't, so will charge you the (higher) via zone one fare.

http://www.oyster-rail.org.uk/route-validators-pink-readers/

Thanks for the information. To avoid taking this thread further off-topic I'll PM you.
 

3270

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My boss was in London last week and panicked by the messages on the Victoria Line saying "no step free access"; she had absolutely no idea what this meant. We all know what it means, but it's not really very accessible language. You see this a lot on the railway: where else, in your entire life, have you used the word "vestibule", for instance?
Or "alight" or "inclement weather". :)
 

Antman

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Quite. Prosecution is neither a fear nor a deterrent to some of those who don't buy a ticket.

Exactly, all it does is intimidate and confuse law abiding passengers. Particularly crass are notices about penalty fares at stations where there are no facilities to buy a ticket, err..............!
 
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