My friend who was so impressed with Nice and the public transport announcements there wrote back to me when I asked if I could quote her, with the following:
Your note made me think a bit more about transit announcements, the fundamental question being, “Who should be speaking?” Is it the management of the transit service, as appears to be the default choice, deciding how it should be represented to the public? Is it the driver, who might be speaking if there weren’t a recorded announcement? Or is it the community: specifically, the transit-rider part of the community? While of course professionals would have to make sure that most riders could understand the thing, I like the idea of the voice representing more of the actual participants in the transit experience, that is, either the driver or the riders.
All excellent questions I think.
Reflecting on the idea that the announcements should represent the actual participants in the transit experience I am reminded again of one of my favorite quotes (about half way down page) from Alain de Botton about Zurich and its public transport system … essentially that everyone in the city from the Mayor to the very young school children use it. In which case the announcements would truly represent the entire community, a nice civic gesture.