Sunday, 24 August 2014

MTR: Caring for Life's Journeys?

Two pictures of the dog and MTR staff's attempts to get it off the tracks
Yesterday hundreds of people showed up to mourn the death of a stray dog that was hit by a train from Shenzhen on Wednesday.

The mourners dressed in black and congregated at the Sheung Shui MTR station where the dog was first sighted, and then like a funeral procession, headed to Fanling station where the canine was found dead.

Many people were upset when they heard about the pathetic attempts by the MTR staff to get the dog off the tracks. A video clip shows two men wearing orange vests trying to coax the animal out of the way, but did not make any attempt to catch it and lift it up onto the platform.

Another picture shows a staff member holding a chair down by the dog. Did he think it was going to jump onto it?

Hundreds of angry protestors came out to mourn the dog
Those who angrily complained felt the MTR should have stopped the incoming train and alerted the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation department, who might have shot the animal with a tranquillizer dart and then removed the animal safely.

In a news report, Leung Chi-sing, an MTR train driver and district councillor said staff lacked training in dealing with animals and didn't have the proper tools to catch animals.

One would think the staff, particularly those at stations in the New Territories, would be trained to deal with these situations, as the tracks are open and anybody or anything could wander into this area.

But apparently the MTR Corporation does not have an extensive crisis management plan, from how to communicate with customers when there are mechanical or technical failures, to rescuing a stray dog from the tracks.

However look at it another way -- if the MTR staff did halt the trains to get the dog off the tracks by getting a qualified animal handler who would then shoot a tranquillizer dart and then remove the animal, how long would that have taken? Would commuters waiting in other stations along the line be sympathetic about the efforts to save a dog?

It's hard to say, but worth considering. That said, the MTR has had so many man-made problems in the last few months, a stray dog would have been the easiest to solve.

Following this incident those people who showed up for the funeral procession might have wished they could have boycotted the MTR, but they probably need to use it to get around. Which may explain why the company doesn't seem to care -- it knows most people don't have much choice and need to use this public transport system to get around relatively quickly.

So much for the MTR's tagline, "Caring for life's journeys"...

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