December 11, 2011 witnessed a major re-organization of the Geneva tram system. Some lines have disappeared - Oh where oh where has my Number 13 gone? - while others are supposed to be operating with greater frequency. I have started meticulously timing my waits for the Number 12 since it is the only line left into the city from Carouge.
Someone took away my tram 13 in exchange, they said, for better service. I am constantly checking if that is actually happening. And I won't even mention the sprints at Plainpalais to change from Number 12 to 15! There is more physical action there running to change trams than in my gym on the treadmills.
People are complaining; the authorities have admitted some mistakes were made; revisions are being considered. In the midst of the negatives - Isn't that what residents of Geneva are known for? - I would like to offer two very positive comments on the new organization from the perspective of someone who rode the New York subways for years. People here are not used to crowded cars; they are not used to standing and being bumped about. I lived with those realities for years.
Positively, I have never been offered more seats in my life. In fact, although one does not like to admit being of a certain age, I am astonished at how many people have offered me places to sit down in the crowded cars. While it is somewhat embarrassing for someone who would like to think he doesn't need to sit down for a short ride, I find the politeness and consideration of the passengers to be exemplary. I have never witnessed this in New York subways.
I hesitate to say the second for fear of giving more work to Madam Rochat who has more than enough on her plate. Nonetheless, crowded subways are a perfect place for pickpockets. How many times on crowded subways in New York did I sense someone searching my pockets for my wallet? It was so bad that I started putting my wallet in my locked briefcase. (By the way, I also used to lock my car as soon as started the engine in garages until a Swiss questioned me and I admitted it was a very New York reflex.) I have yet to see pickpockets taking advantage of the crowding nor have I seen a purse snatcher operating just before the tram leaves the station. (If this is used by anyone who reads this blog I will vehemently deny cause and effect.)
Although I do miss tram 13 and resent changing trams at Plainpalais - I refuse running since I am a firm believer, for the moment, that the trams will be more frequent - I am pleased to relay some positive notes on our new tram experience.