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  • Ruth Liddemore

Ergonomics and Eugenics

“How did ergonomicsand eugenicsget onto our train services?” And into business in general, come to that?

Well, ergonomicsis easy. Design fitting people. Or is that the other way round? And public transport, by its very nature, is limited in basic design. Large cans and boxes on wheels. Or tracks. But anyone who’s read my blog on the subjectwill know that if the system was created to fit the passenger, then as atypical travellers, we felt it failed us miserably. Or maybe we failed it, by not booking seats?

Yet can you book specific seats online, or do you have to ring National Rail, for example, or physically go into a station? Which would rather negate the point that online booking enables people to buy a ticket from anywhere, from any internet device. And one lady who joined us in the bike sheds said she couldn’t even see the reservations lists, never mind read them. Even if she’d booked a seat, she’d have had no idea where it was. Not without putting someone to the bother of telling her. So much for independent travel.

But we all know a business needs profit, not least for its own survival. And it tends to work on the basis that popular is better. After all, its almost certainly more profitable to focus on the prototypical products and customers, than on the odd ones out, unless these are in the numbers needed to create an untapped market niche. An effective automated system is probably a lot cheaper than forking out for manual labour, and many people are willing to accept any booked seat; it’s only those few who need one facing in a certain direction, or with a table, who don’t fit the popular mould. And if there are more passengers than seats or tables, well. That creates demand. Which businesses love. And how do they deal with that? First come, first served? Highest bidder wins?

So while culturally we’re no longer carrying out forced sterilisations or genetic terminations, perhaps a kind of cultural and societaleugenicsthrough class and ability selection is subtly and unconsciously creeping in, despite companies’ best efforts.? If only in the economicscreated by our business practices?

What do you think?

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