Let The Passengers On First Please

Alan Broach Issue: Section:

Spend time in Moscow and you will probably use the Metro, if only to look at beautiful stations like Mayakovskaya and Ploshchad Revolutsii. Muscovites are proud of their Metro. In comparison to cities like London and New York it is cheap, reliable, graffiti free and pretty safe. Not only that but, as Muscovites will tell you, rush hour trains come every 40 seconds. They don't, but they like to tell you they do and they have been saying it for so long they believe it.

Recently commuters spotted that journey times were getting longer. This led to a little noticed report being issued by the Executive Board of Metro Metropolitan. The 1,267 page report concluded that the problem was caused by passengers taking too long to leave and board the trains and that no-one on the Executive Board was to blame. The Metro managers tried various sneaky ways of dealing with the problem. One example was to have the announcement “watch out, doors are closing, next station…” announced as soon as the train stopped and the doors opened. Unfortunately the passengers trying to get off panicked and collided with the passengers trying to get on, who were also panicking.

So the Board did what any sensible management would do and commissioned 5 consulting firms to prepare recommendations. The consulting firms recently published their joint report (1,268 pages costing $5.7 million in fees) entitled “On how to facilitate increased loading flow speeds in rapid transport passenger systems”. The report is largely incomprehensible but the conclusion is dynamite. It recommends that passengers should board the train before passengers get off. Presently this prior boarding right is only enjoyed by pensioners and very fat people.

I was amazed so I called Artem Mazitov, chief author of the report. I asked him how he got the idea. He said “I came up with this plan when sitting in my chauffer driven Mercedes in a traffic jam on MKAD. I noted how traffic joins MKAD just before traffic leaves MKAD and I thought, what a brilliant idea! How typical that all other countries have traffic leaving before joining but we Russians have come up with something different. Admittedly our system causes accidents, traffic jams, road rage etc. but the simplicity of the concept was overwhelming and I immediately saw how it could be applied to the Metro.”

Prime MinisterVV Putin responded to a request for a quote by saying “we will hunt them down like rats in an outhouse/cave/toilet (you chose).” I think there may have been confusion over the topic.

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