A few weeks ago, I'd stumbled upon the NJTransit Board of Directors customer complaint email address.
They've been threatening fare hikes again and I've been really pissed off.
A little background: I subscribe to both the official NJT Alert newsletter and a citizen-based e-alert called CleverCommute.com. 99% of the time, CleverCommute beats NJT with alerts based on sheer observation like "Hey guys, I'm still waiting on the platform. Train's 20 mins late. No announcements from NJT."
So, I started emailing them every single time the train was delayed, canceled, on fire, etc. Very grandpa of me, but I pay way too much for a 30 minute ride on a dilapidated electric shoebox.
Imagine my surprise when I started getting direct emails back addressing my issues. At first, they were canned responses, but as I continued, I received an actual...semi-virtual...human!
Take a look:
3/12/07, after my first series of "hey, fix your trains before charging us $$" complaints:
Thank you for writing to the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors and Executive Director, George D. Warrington. I have been asked to respond on their behalf. Please be assured that your comments have been received and entered into the public record, and that no final decisions have been made. The public's views on the fare proposals will be presented to the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors prior to a final decision in these matters.
Nice form letter. And really, did I expect anything beyond? PS: Hee. "he was asked to respond." More like "could you shut her up, please?"
Then on 4/05/07, our train line is suspended completely b/c it's...under water. No alerts from NJT, I had to find out via the local news and Clever Commute. So, again, I wrote.
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2007 6:52 PMLo and behold, here comes Anthony:
To: Grieco, Anthony M. (CCRDAMG)
Subject: Re: Your Recent E-mail to NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors
I understand this morning was weather-related, but there are still at least 3 delays affecting my trains EVERY WEEK!
There are many lovely privately owned bus companies and terrific car pools we can all consider if this nonsense persists.
Very frustrating - I see nothing in NJT's "how we'll spend your money" referring to diminishing delays and cancellations.
To quote one passenger on the cross-honoring bus this morning "why should we even bother getting on those rickety trains?"
I'd be amazed if I didn't get a form letter.
04/11/2007 11:37 AM
RE: Your Recent E-mail to NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors
I apologize for the delay in responding to your follow-up e-mail. In order to investigate the issue you've indicated with your chronically late train, could you provide me with the specific train information, i.e. origin/destination station and scheduled departure time?
Ok, now he's blowing my mind. So I responded, b/c I can't keep my fat mouth shut. It's the Greek in me.
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 11:41 AM
To: Grieco, Anthony M. (CCRDAMG)
Subject: RE: Your Recent E-mail to NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors
It's the Montclair-Boonton Line...the 7:52am via Glen Ridge is chronically late, as is the 7:37pm from Penn.
The poor conductor on the morning train has to apologize EVERY day for signal issues, missing our "window" from Amtrak, congestion ahead, a bridge that hasn't lowered, you name it.
It's become par for the course on this train and I'm positive I'm not the only one complaining.
However, I appreciate your response, but remain skeptical.
Now I thought: Ok. There's no WAY he's getting back to me. Who am I, but a snarky and spoiled commuter from suburbia. There's no..waitaminute...what's in my Inbox today?...
I've run the on-time performance over the last 30 days for each of your trains. Over the last 22 business days from 3/11/07 - 4/10/07, the 7:52 has definitely had some issues, although the issues do not seem to be related. In other words, there isn't a single cause that's responsible for all of the issues. This train was late more that five(5) minutes on 7 of the 22 days. There were various causes, including Amtrak preference and equipment problems, other equipment-related issues and signal issues. In addition, this train was annulled on Thursday, 4/5/07, due to the water main break.
I can understand your frustration with the 7:52, because a delay of more than five (5) minutes on more than one-third of your morning trains certainly doesn't meet our on-time performance standards or expectations. I'll continue to periodically monitor this train's performance; however, please feel free to call or e-mail me with any further issues regarding any aspect of our service that falls short of your expectations.
Whhhaaaa??? Granted, this is an "it's not our fault b/c of act of God, etc.etc. thank you for your patience b.s. b.s b.s., we're reviewing the situation" answer. However, I'm kind of tingly over getting a direct response.
Alright NJT. You win this time. You've sated my inner Kraken. However, it's not gonna stop me from spreading the word, boys.
Any commuters out there who'd like to send a note to our friend, please feel free at either the board of directors' email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). Keep it NJT related please - they'll only be nice to us if you're nice to them.