The new Tel Aviv Subway-and the mobile phone

This week I went to see a documentary film about the Samaritans at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque.

I live in one of the suburban towns north of the city; a train + subway ride takes me about 45 minutes door to door, as opposed to a 90 minute commute by car and probably, no parking anywhere to be found. So going to the film gave me an opportunity to ride the new subway.

The network is not easy to to navigate the pay-your-fare and the transfer-to-Israel-rail stations are really challenging.

The fare system allows the passenger to pay with any one of many apps, credit cards, loaded train/bus cards, cash and monthly subscription cards. There is a huge line of different machines where one can top up  payment cards and/or pay. Too many payment choices are available. Navigating this is complex and many people, even technologically competent people, are baffled.

In the stations where one can transfer to a train, the signs are incomplete. In Kiryat Aryeh, a major station, there no way to know which trains leave from Platform Two and many people go to Platform One and go the wrong way. I am one of those people.

To deal with this mess, the subway hired many “travel assistance” personnel, who are supposed to help the public. Generally they are “heads down”, playing with their smartphones or talking to one another. Questions are often greeted with “I don’t have a clue” or “don’t know” or an incomprehensible answers comes your way- spoken like the way Mumbles used to talk in Dick Tracey films.

And I ask myself, how is it that such a negative organization culture develop so quickly? There is so much to be proud in the new subway-why is it that service providers don’t give a shit. And yes, they are well paid.

My educated guess is that were they not allowed to keep their mobiles on their shift, they would want to interact with people.

But when faced with a choice between “whats-apping” their friends or working, they prefer the former. Perhaps phones should be confiscated at the work place-I guess not. I’m too told to be accurate.






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