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  • Genine Babakian

New Jersey Transit’s Non-Apology

“We apologize for any inconvenience.”

I have learned to hate those words.

If you are, like me, a New Jersey Transit commuter, you hear that automated phrase daily. Dozens of times daily, in fact.

Since a series of recent derailments disabled the already challenged train service, extensive delays are the rule – not the exception – these days.

Last week in Penn Station – where this photo was taken – I believe I heard that automated non-apology at least 30 times in as many minutes. Caught up in a mass of people trying

to get home, I watched the Departure screens – hoping for my track to be posted. With each passing minute, more commuters crammed into the tight corridor. I kept an eye out for the closest exit – or nook in which to hide – should the overcrowding take an ugly turn. I tried not to think about the recent stampede.

There were a lot of things making me unhappy at that moment. But what really ticked me off was that “we apologize for any inconvenience,” recording. As if that absolves them of any responsibility.

Any inconvenience? An interesting word choice. For me, the word “any” minimizes the impact of the delays. Is New Jersey Transit suggesting that not knowing when and if your scheduled train will arrive is no big deal for most commuters?

Are added babysitting costs, and missed school concerts, parent-teacher conferences, and Little League games a big deal? Being later for job interviews, doctor’s appointments, or the theater? And what about the train cars full of people who are late to work? Again. Is that no big deal? Does anyone have somewhere to be, or does everyone have somewhere to be?

So, NJT, I do not accept your so-called apology. Until you can get your trains to run with any degree of reliability, how about apologizing for EVERY inconvenience?

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