Monday, October 25, 2010

Dear Nathaniel Ford - This is Broken

Dear Nathaniel Ford,

I'm sure you saw today's Chronicle piece in which our Board of Supervisors questioned whether Muni is actually ready to phase out the paper fast pass. Maybe you even attended the meeting?

Nathaniel, please remember that your organization is a service business. Service businesses succeed when they listen to their customers. Sometimes it might even mean admitting that they made a mistake.
The Gap even manager to turn their logo debacle into a kind of cool mistake. Gap's not alone. Many many others have experienced similar fails. Remember New Coke? Remember the redesigned Tropicana logo?
Each of my examples here has  one thing in common. When they woke up and started listening to their customers, they realized that they'd fixed the thing that wasn't broken.
I wonder if you and your cohorts in the MTA have ever, in the past two years, sat back and asked yourselves, "Is Clipper right for our passengers? Does it solve an essential problem for them?"

You know what would be great, Nathaniel? 

If you ASKED your customers if they need Clipper, instead of telling them that they do. When I visited your office a few weeks back, the Clipper people kept telling me how much easier it would be. Perhaps that's true, but getting a Muni pass was not hard to start with so any improvement is only incremental, especially when you consider the expense and the operational gaps that Clipper doesn't address.

Sometimes people just flock to things because they're good and they work. The Metro Card in New York was like a miracle compared with those heavy little tokens. FastTrak visibly speeds the commute.

All Clipper seems to do is, well, the exact same thing that the FastPass did but with an added layer of expense and complexity.

Maybe by listening to your customers you can figure out how to make us like Clipper, instead of just ignore it.


Greg said...

He runs a service business OWNED by us, the people served by it. Kinda like a credit union. Their first obligation is to you and me and the 100s of 1000s of owner/riders out there.

well said. keep up the good work.

Robert said...

What no one seems to understand is that the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission is pushing clipper down Muni's throat: MTC gives muni money to fix busted down fare gates and that money has strings. Your fare payment system will be assimilated: resistance is futile.

There is no local control here and nat ford is a pawn. You think you own something, greg? You own nothing. A bureaucrat from Alameda county, sitting on the MTC, owns more of SF Muni than you or any other SF resident ever will.