We’ve all been there — stuck behind the bus rider “oversharing” his or her phone conversation or next to the person who thinks a subway smorgasbord is a great idea. How does one handle unacceptable behaviors that seem to have become the norm?
In September 2014, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) introduced “Dude It’s Rude,” a direct message campaign that addresses passenger etiquette and quality of ride issues on all SEPTA vehicles. “It’s passenger etiquette with a kick,” said Nilda Rivera-Frazier, SEPTA’s assistant director of customer service. “The campaign was developed to be impactful — there are no cartoon characters or SEPTA logos. This way we are emphasizing the behavior.”
With messages such as “You Have Earbuds for a Reason,” “Two Seats-Really?” and “Keep Your Business Yours,” ads for the campaign are featured on car cards, decals and digital displays on SEPTA’s trains, buses and trolleys and on schedule timetables. All messages are prefaced with the “Dude It’s Rude…” tagline.
“Many of the behaviors in the ads, such as blocking aisles, carrying on loud phone conversations and taking an extra seat, are those that our customers and employees have complained about,” said Rivera-Frazier. “We look for places on the vehicles where customers will definitely see the messages.” For example, on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford subway-elevated line, “Dude It’s Rude” decals are placed on car windows.
SEPTA had launched a passenger etiquette campaign in 2011, one that took a lighter approach with cartoon-like characters demonstrating bad behaviors. “The messages were too soft and we didn’t see a change in customer behavior,” said Rivera-Frazier. “We needed something edgy, more ‘in-your-face.’”
The initial customer response to ‘Dude It’s Rude” was generally positive. “We knew the campaign would seem a little too aggressive for some riders, but comments we received through social media and other customer service channels showed that most of our passengers appreciated that we were addressing issues that can make their commutes unpleasant,” said Rivera-Frazier. ”We continue to receive suggestions from customers on future campaign messages.”
The second phase of “Dude It’s Rude” was rolled out in June 2015 and included messages such as “Trolleys Aren’t Diners” to remind passengers that a trolley car probably isn’t the best place to enjoy a meal. The program will continue with a third phase in the near future.
Transit agencies across the country have launched transit etiquette programs similar to “Dude It’s Rude” including Chicago Transit Authority (‘Your Maid Doesn’t Work Here”, “You’re Not the CTA’s DJ); Metropolitan Transportation Authority (‘Dude…Stop the Spread, Please”, “Poles Are For Safety, Not Your Latest Routine”) and Golden Gate Transit (“Local Pride — Respect Your Ride”).
“We have been approached by other organizations about ‘Dude It’s Rude,’ which is flattering” said Rivera-Frazier. “I think all of these campaigns, as well as the interest in SEPTA’s program, demonstrates that etiquette issues are important for all transit authorities and that we are all working hard to make the commute enjoyable for everyone on board.”