Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CityRail investing in free WiFi hotspots instead of the things that "really" matter

My first reaction to the news that CityRail is trialling free WiFi hotspots at Sydney's Circular Quay train station was: 'Yay, now I can surf the web as I wait for my train that usually comes at half-hour intervals after dance class.'

A split second later I re-evaluated my judgment and realised I'd much prefer to only wait 15 minutes for a train than have free access to the Internet.

Once the novelty of having access to a perk for being a CityRail customer wore off the trial brought up past and present grievances I've had with CityRail's appalling train service.

Rather than providing new services, why don't CityRail work on improving the services they already provide like making trains run on time, providing clean toilet facilities at stations, replacing old un-airconditioned trains with new ones, installing more ticket booths to ease peak-hour queues? The list goes on.

As the old saying goes: if it ain't broke, don't fix it but if it is broke, fix it before you move on to bigger and better things.

So why is a WiFi hotspot being trialled by CityRail? The site says in its FAQ section:

"CityRail's free WiFi hotspot is a value-added service for customers. We will use the next three months of this limited offer to get your feedback and explore opportunities to expand this service."

While free WiFi hotspots is a "value-added service" and may improve CityRail's likability, the fail-safe way to keep NSW's train provider in everyone's good books is to simply provide an efficient, reliable and cost-effective train service.

When you can get people from A to B without dropping the F-bomb or tweeting their frustrations on the way to and from work then you know you can start "value-adding." Otherwise, there will be no value to add to in the first place.

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