CBS Local –– Most big city commuters in America probably wouldn’t expect an apology when mass transit is running late. A company in Japan is taking costumer service to the next level by apologizing for one of its trains leaving 20 seconds early.
The overly eager train reportedly pulled out of the Minami-Nagareyama station at 9:44:20 a.m. on Nov. 14. The Tsukuba Express, which connects the Tokyo and Ibaraki areas of Japan, was scheduled to leave the station at 9:44:40 exactly.
The company in charge of the Tsukuba Express felt the need to issue a public apology for the early departure.
“We deeply apologize for the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers,” officials wrote in a statement. The managers for the Tsukuba Express blamed the train’s crew for not strictly checking the clock before taking off.
The 20-second gaffe may not sound like a big deal, but the Japanese train system is world-famous for its precision and efficiency. The trains are so well known for their perfect timing that passengers actually synchronize their watches and phones to the local train schedules.
“At least a few people would miss a train if it left 20 seconds earlier than usual… adding four minutes to that leg of their commute might cause them to miss other transfers on the way… with the effect snowballing enough that they end up being late for work or school,” Casey Baseel of Sora News 24 wrote.
While inconvenient, Japan’s 20-second miscue pales in comparison to the disastrous state of mass transit in cities like New York. A review by that city’s Independent Budget Office found that subway delays totaled almost 35,000 hours on an average weekday. That number was up from over 24,000 hours late just five years ago.