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MTA needs to work on basics, not slogans

The editorial board suggests a new slogan for

The editorial board suggests a new slogan for the MTA: What's the smell? Credit: Newsday

In a new online survey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority asks riders how much they care about the ways it tries to communicate.

Those who predominantly use the Long Island Rail Road are asked to prioritize their interest in several initiatives, including a system that lets you create apps to track trains, the MTA’s own tracking app, and ticket purchasing on computers and cellphones, due in 2019!

Finding out what your customers want is wise, but this is bizarre. It’s as if a restaurant asked customers, “How important is high-quality food and service and a smooth payment process?” Why not just focus on doing all those things well?

But the MTA’s initial questions are actually less laughable than the second half of the survey, which asks respondents to rate 13 slogans for how well they would “resonate with the MTA’s efforts to improve the customer experience.”

These are open invitations to ridicule, not just because they are so bland and meaningless, but because they actually seem to highlight the MTA’s weaknesses. And they just beg for parody. Even we couldn’t resist.

Here are the MTA’s new “theme line” ideas.

  • “Moving Forward For You”
  • “Your Ride, Every Day”
  • “A New Day, A Better Ride.”
  • “Keeps New York Moving”
  • “We’re Going There”
  • “Stronger. Better. Faster.”
  • “Always Moving You Forward”
  • “Good to Go”
  • “Let’s Go”
  • “It’s Everybody’s Ride”
  • “Getting It Done”
  • “Driven By You”
  • “It’s Go Time”

And here are ours.

  • “Moving Forward For You . . . Pretty Soon”
  • “Keeps New York Moving . . . to the Carolinas”
  • “What Are You Gonna Do, Drive?”
  • “We’ll Get There When We Get There”
  • “What’s That Smell?’
  • “We’re Taking You for a Ride”
  • “The MTA . . . Where Better Days Are Always Seven Years Away”
  • “What’s the Rush?”
  • “Watch Out for the Gap . . . Between Schedules and Reality”
  • “Sorry, This MTA Slogan Will Not Be Finished as Scheduled”

Again and again, particularly when troubles arise, LIRR customers complain that communications are terrible, not necessarily because the systems don’t work, but because the MTA does not put out timely, accurate and useful information. It has promised to do better for decades, but never seems to manage it.

Doing better is where the MTA needs to focus its efforts — not on asking whether obviously important services are important, or befuddling riders with goofy slogans.

Send your marketing slogans for the MTA to, or tweet them to #mtaslogans. We’ll publish the best ones.