The NYC Subway System Is Moving to Gender-Neutral Language During Announcements
New York City is one of the most diverse places in the country. With neighborhoods comprised of almost every cultural group, the biggest city in the nation is working on becoming an even more welcoming and inclusive place. Going forward, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is asking all staff to use gender-neutral language during announcements — and while the step might seem small, it’s definitely going in the right direction.
According to the Associated Press (via ABC News), the MTA has updated their “Blue Book,” a guide that all transit staff must study in order to best communicate with transit riders. The book hasn’t been updated in 30 years and, according to Jon Weinstein, MTA spokesman, the updates have already started rolling out.
Taking a cue from the London Tube system, the MTA is replacing “ladies and gentlemen” with greetings like “passengers,” “riders,” and the general term, “everyone,” and while the neutrality of the greetings is important, what actually sparked the update is the ridership’s general unhappiness with how the system announces delays for riders.
“I have been in situations where they said it’ll be moving shortly or momentarily,” one passenger told the AP. “Sometimes momentarily means two minutes, sometimes it means 20 minutes,” which is why the blue book update instructs staff to be as clear and forthcoming as possible when addressing passengers.
The book update states that staff should give detailed, but easy to understand instructions, including, where applicable, approximate delay times, and reasons for delays. “It all goes to this fundamental need to make sure we’re getting people the information they need,” Weinstein said. “What it ultimately should come down to is a clearer, crisper, more informative way of speaking to our customers.”
While the changes are definitely welcome, some users are pointing to the dilapidated state of some of the MTA’s trains, and hope that clearer communication will also lead to better infrastructure. Back in August, the system announced an $836 million plan to fix trains and infrastructure for the aging transit line.
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(Photo via Spencer Platt/Getty)