Pet Peeves

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Northwestern

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 3, 2022
Messages
164
Location
Santa Rosa
I know, a bit trivial, but I'm amazed at the quality of the PA announcements in many Amtrak stations. The garble and reverberations coming from the overhead speakers seem to be a problem that someone would suggest fixing. I was recently in the Martinez, Calif Amtrak depot (awaiting the train to Eugene, Oregon) and couldn't believe the distortion from the overhead speakers. To make it worse, the guy making the announcement was wearing a Covid mask which didn't exactly help clarity. I have noticed the problem in several Amtrak station, especially the older ones with high overhead ceilings (San Jose, Portland, and Seattle to name a few). There was an electric, flashing sign at the Martinez station, for train status, but it only flashed train status for a commuter train, not for the Coast Starlight. The Starlight was 2.5 hours late on arrival.

My 2nd pet peeve, station rest rooms/lavatories which aren't open. This was the case in Martinez. The rest room at the Eugene station said "not in use", but I used it, anyway.
 

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
470
Location
East San Diego County
The rest room at the Eugene station said "not in use", but I used it, anyway.
In a different thread, someone related how they once used a restroom in a SSL car that was “closed” by virtue of a trash can being placed in front of its door. For doing so, they got a good chewing out from the conductor.

We were once in Los Angeles Union Station when the men’s room was closed down.
 
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John Bobinyec

Conductor
Joined
Sep 18, 2009
Messages
1,931
Location
CYN
The newer announcements system (informally referred to as "Samantha"), makes an audible announcement as well as writes it out on an electronic display board. So for preprogrammed announcements, that should address your first pet peeve.

I know, however, that this system hasn't yet been installed everywhere.

jb
 
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joelkfla

Engineer
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,212
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
Not just old stations: the announcements at the new Moynihan Train Hall at NYP are nearly impossible to decipher, especially on the floor of the Great Hall. I realize it's a large space with a lot of hard surfaces, but nevertheless you would think a brand-new, showcase station would have a PA system designed by an acoustic engineer to be intelligible.
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,401
Location
Spring Creek, NC
Not just old stations: the announcements at the new Moynihan Train Hall at NYP are nearly impossible to decipher, especially on the floor of the Great Hall. I realize it's a large space with a lot of hard surfaces, but nevertheless you would think a brand-new, showcase station would have a PA system designed by an acoustic engineer to be intelligible.
Perhaps unintelligible announcements are one of those NYC inconveniences that have lingered so long that they've become traditions.
 

daybeers

Conductor
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
1,658
Location
NHV
It would be nice to be able to understand them, though, if not just to comply with ADA requirements...

Communication is one of the fundamental pillars of transportation.
 

RebelRider

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
178
Location
America's Railroad
Communication is one of the fundamental pillars of transportation.

Comprehension is one of the other fundamental pillars of transportation. An announcement could be made on a clear and functional PA by someone with excellent diction and delivery, but if there is no comprehension (or attention) on the receiving end, then we still have a communication breakdown.

The best ones are multiple clear PA announcements, going to each person individually to advise the direction to detrain in X minutes, making a last call while stopped and after the train starts pulling someone in headphones runs up yelling that was their stop.
 

Northwestern

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 3, 2022
Messages
164
Location
Santa Rosa
A piece of chalk and a blackboard, for a suggested arrival time, would at least have been helpful. I checked 'train status", on the Amtrak website, before leaving for Martinez (which is about a 1.25 hr drive from my house). The info said the Starlight was running 15-20 min late. In reality, 2.5 hrs late. I have to wonder how often they update train status info.
 

bonzoesc

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2022
Messages
17
Location
Miami
Perhaps unintelligible announcements are one of those NYC inconveniences that have lingered so long that they've become traditions.
It's a tradition worldwide. There was a BVG (Berlin's public transit company) ad a few years back that showed what a great deal their €60.66 monthly pass was, because they were always working on ways to make the system more annoying, including what foods you could eat to make the announcements the least intelligible (chocolate covered marshmallows).
288589BA-F980-431F-87A3-06648BCC8A88.png
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
3,588
Location
SW ATL airport
Have been around PA announcements for years. With a bad PA often speaking slowly word by word helps some. thiinking about it for those who remember the announcemnts for X train leaving for Y would be a long drawn out announcement with the end being "Alllll aborddddddddddd
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
6,280
Location
NYC/Queens
I know, a bit trivial, but I'm amazed at the quality of the PA announcements in many Amtrak stations. The garble and reverberations coming from the overhead speakers seem to be a problem that someone would suggest fixing. I was recently in the Martinez, Calif Amtrak depot (awaiting the train to Eugene, Oregon) and couldn't believe the distortion from the overhead speakers. To make it worse, the guy making the announcement was wearing a Covid mask which didn't exactly help clarity. I have noticed the problem in several Amtrak station, especially the older ones with high overhead ceilings (San Jose, Portland, and Seattle to name a few). There was an electric, flashing sign at the Martinez station, for train status, but it only flashed train status for a commuter train, not for the Coast Starlight. The Starlight was 2.5 hours late on arrival.

My 2nd pet peeve, station rest rooms/lavatories which aren't open. This was the case in Martinez. The rest room at the Eugene station said "not in use", but I used it, anyway
Both stations you mentioned are not owned by Amtrak, they are only tenants. There is a great possibility that they are not responsible for the upkeep and maintenance. That is often a contributing factor.
 

Trollopian

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Messages
303
Location
Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA
Comprehension is one of the other fundamental pillars of transportation. An announcement could be made on a clear and functional PA by someone with excellent diction and delivery, but if there is no comprehension (or attention) on the receiving end, then we still have a communication breakdown.

Yes, but some passengers are deaf or hard of hearing, and Amtrak and other common carriers are obliged to serve them. Screens with accurate and up-to-date information are essential. Ditto station or on-board staff who are aware of impairments or special needs.
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2013
Messages
2
There are certainly good tricks to making clearer PA announcements. Don't hold the Mic too close, speak slowly and clearly. Don't pop your "P's" and just take it smoothly. I used to train the New Hires, down in the LA Yards for OBS jobs. I drilled them constantly on the PA. Some of them are still there, approaching 30 years of Svc now.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
3,662
The difficulty of hearing announcements has been an irritant for me for a long time. Not just Amtrak related, but, when I fly, and particularly as we are descending in preparation for landing, my ears plug up and I basically can't hear anything.

Don't hold the Mic too close,

Inexperienced mic users often hold the mic too far away from their mouth and it becomes difficult to hear what the person is saying.
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
1,035
Location
QB 101
Yes, but some passengers are deaf or hard of hearing, and Amtrak and other common carriers are obliged to serve them. Screens with accurate and up-to-date information are essential. Ditto station or on-board staff who are aware of impairments or special needs.
As one that is hard of hearing with cellphone app 'tuneable' bluetooth hearing aids, I've largely given up listening for announcements, unless I'm in the metropolitan lounge at the larger stations.

But even then - including the new Moynihan Station lounge - I have to get confirmation at the desk as what I usually hear is "train 123 asdf lkh asdflkjwet qwet[puadf mmfdidmed." If I'm really lucky, I heard the train number and the rest was unintelligible. (Masks make it far more difficult for me to understand anyone, even my doctor in a small room.) So, I watch the TV monitor(s) closely if I hadn't understood announcements. On the good side, in BOS, the attendant knows me enough to come tell me personally. In WAS, I sit such that I can watch & lip read (as best I can) the attendant announcing a train, especially if it's 15-20 mins prior to my trains' departure. I still have to confirm the train number about 50% of the time.
 

RPC

Service Attendant
Joined
May 29, 2015
Messages
230
At PHL, on the other hand, I'm impressed by the latest PA system - four line source arrays nicely integrated into the columns on the north side of the main hall. I think it's something like the fourth system they've had in there since 1990 and this time they finally got it right!
 

RebelRider

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
178
Location
America's Railroad
Yes, but some passengers are deaf or hard of hearing, and Amtrak and other common carriers are obliged to serve them. Screens with accurate and up-to-date information are essential. Ditto station or on-board staff who are aware of impairments or special needs.

I generally find deaf and hard of hearing passengers stay quite aware of where the train is vs. where they want to go and my comments were not directed at them. When I'm aware they are on my train, they receive all updates face-to-face and I make sure to communicate in a way they can understand. It will be a very good day for those folks when digital signage and announcements are available onboard every train and at every station.

My comprehension comments are directed solely at those who completely zone out of reality. Once their stop has been missed, they often shirk any responsibility for the error. I have no compassion for those whom I've personally told face-to-face, "You stop is next, about four minutes now, you'll exit at the rear of this car." while clearly motioning with my hand. When 50, 75, 100, [insert big number here] other people detrain without issue, then we clearly see where the break down occurred.
 

trainman74

Conductor
Joined
Apr 7, 2011
Messages
1,882
Location
Sherman Oaks, CA
I remember at PSNY back in the day they had an announcer with great diction that would make a local to Rahway sound like the Orient Express. I recall "change at Newark for the Central Railroad of New Jersey" giving the railroad its proper name. You could always hear him clearly.

Sounds like you're referring to Danny Simmons. Some of his announcements got recorded in May 1994 by a writer who was interviewing him for Passenger Train Journal magazine.

 

Stremba

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 27, 2022
Messages
57
Location
Crafton
Related to PA announcements: one that I absolute hate (and for some reason one that is always perfectly audible and intelligible) is that some OBS when approaching a smaller station with a platform too short to permit all coaches to access the platform will often announce “All doors will not open at this stop”. Really??? What’s the point of even stopping here then, since nobody can get off or on if “All doors will not open.”

Seriously how hard is it to move the “not” to the beginning or change “all” to “some”. Not a huge deal since it is clear what they mean, but it does grate on my nerves a bit.
 

joelkfla

Engineer
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,212
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
Related to PA announcements: one that I absolute hate (and for some reason one that is always perfectly audible and intelligible) is that some OBS when approaching a smaller station with a platform too short to permit all coaches to access the platform will often announce “All doors will not open at this stop”. Really??? What’s the point of even stopping here then, since nobody can get off or on if “All doors will not open.”

Seriously how hard is it to move the “not” to the beginning or change “all” to “some”. Not a huge deal since it is clear what they mean, but it does grate on my nerves a bit.
No matter; it fits right in with the atrocious grammar in common use these days, such as newsreaders putting everything in present tense.
 
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