New York’s subway system is getting a gender-inclusive upgrade.
The city’s Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) recently instructed its staff to replace the phrase “ladies and gentleman” in all announcements with gender-inclusive language, like “passengers,” “riders,” or “everyone.” As local news source PIX11 reports, the change applies to bus drivers and subway conductors alike, and the city will be updating recorded messages that contain the outdated language.
This change reflects the MTA’s new communications policy. In July, the MTA released a Subway Action Plan, whose first phase promised to address a host of topics, including customer communications. Now, the agency says it plans to move away from pre-recorded messages entirely and wants conductors to make more live announcements. MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein said in a statement that the MTA is, “fundamentally changing the way we talk with riders to give them better and clearer information.”
Currently, communication between riders and drivers can be politely summed up as opaque. Whether a train is stopped for 5 minutes or 30, passengers are often treated to the same explanation: that they are delayed “due to train traffic ahead.” The reason for the traffic—a herd of Rodents of Unusual Size migrating across the tracks, a subway performer getting a hat stuck in a door, the emergence of a sinkhole on the 2/3 line—remains a mystery.
The MTA has a long way to go in terms of replacing signal equipment, making track repairs, and rolling out their new, integrated app. But this will be a symbolic victory for New Yorkers who care about gender identity inclusivity—as soon as the speaker systems are updated so riders can actually hear what the conductors are saying.