Monday, June 14, 2010

and then it happens again!

This is why I decided it was time to start blogging about my carfree experiences in Charleson:

After a month of taking bus 12 from the stop in front of Dial America on Greenridge Rd five or more days a week, I got on Saturday morning headed to Publix for some food shopping. Spent the entire trip chatting with the bus driver, had lunch, and did my shopping. Awesome day so far! Heat index was supposed to be 103-104 so I threw 2 half-frozen bottles of water into the insulated cooler with icepacks that I carry for grocery shopping. The schedule for bus 12 is still not available online, and none of the buses carry a hard copy, so while I'm shopping I make 4 calls to CARTA to find out what time the bus will be in front of Burger King for the trip home. I held for over 10 minutes on the first 3 calls before giving up, on the 4th call I hold for 14 minutes. It's 2:09 and the next bus I'm told will be there at 2:39. I haul my rolling backpack loaded with meat etc in the insulated cooler, along w/ the two reusable shopping bags I'm carrying down to Burger King. The plan is sit inside with a meal and a shake until about 10 minutes before the bus is due, in order to keep myself and my groceries from cooking in the hot sun. I'm sitting in sight of the bus stop the whole time. And this is where the day begins to unravel....

After standing in the blazing sun for 20 minutes I start trying to call CARTA at 2:49. At 2:59 I called yellow cab, preferring to pay the $15 fare rather then continuing to wait indefinitely for a bus that apparently wasn't coming, or was running extremely late. At 3:04 the bus pulls up. When I asked if the person I spoke with gave me the wrong time, the driver told me he couldn't say as to when the bus was supposed to be there, as he just picked up the bus. I ride through to Kmart, planning to get back off at Dial America, where I had gotten on earlier in the day. The bus driver pulls the bus around and parks facing towards Rivers Ave, instead Antler. When asked he tells me they are no longer going down Greenridge Rd, instead returning by way of Rivers Ave. BOTH stops on Greenridge have now been cancelled, supposedly due to the road construction! He can't explain why I had just gotten on at that stop, and he and the driver from bus 10 both contact the dispatcher to verify. So now I have to walk a mile home, in the blazing heat with all my groceries. Antler has no sidewalks and a very rough shoulder down which I have to drag my loaded rolling backpack filled with groceries. And I'm carrying 2 shopping bags as well. Difficult but doable from the regular stop, agonizing when I have to walk twice as far!

Back on the phone I go while lugging my stuff home. The first rep I speak with offers to take my complaint, then tells me I need to call and speak to a supervisor Monday morning. She then hangs up on me. Rep number 2 is Kim, who assures me the stop at Dial America is still in service and I will have no trouble getting bus 12 to work on Monday morning. When I explain what just happened she puts me on hold to talk to "them", dispatch maybe? After holding for 10 minutes she comes back on and says she'll try again. Next I get Ron who refuses to tell me his job title, and asks me repeatedly, "What's your problem?" When I ask about the stop on Greenridge he advises it was cancelled two days ago. "Really? I've used that stop everyday since Monday, including this morning?!" Ron's response is that "The drivers must not have gotten the message then." When I ask how I, and the others who depend on this stop are supposed to get to work, and what alternatives we have, Ron's answer is, "That's not my problem, you'll have to call CARTA." When I advise him how much I appreciate his concern for the passengers, Ron also hangs up on me. At this point I'm beyond irate, I'm totally p.o.'d! After tracking down names and emailing several CARTA board members including Mayor Keith Summey, the Veolia supervisor Ms. Wigfall, and a local news reporter, I went to work setting up this blog. My purpose is to post the good, the bad, and the ugly in regards to living carfree in Charleston, SC via CARTA.

On Wednesday I will be attending, and posting about my trip to the monthly board meeting of CARTA. For today I have to decide whether I want to trek to Kmart or the mall to catch bus 10 to work. Both trips are about a mile, both are equally non-friendly for walkers, especially one who's pulling a rolling backpack due to back issues. I'll be bringing extra bottles of water as today's heat index will be reaching 110, and I'll have to pack a change of clothing as spaghetti strap tank tops and shorts don't qualify as business casual for work. I'll also be posting a sign on the bench at the cancelled stop letting people know who to contact to file a complaint!

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