Sunday, June 13, 2010

passengers left stranded by unannounced change...

So there I was, all excited about my new move, all the great options available to me etc. I moved in on Saturday May 8th, and got busy, riding the bus all weekend to get my errands taken care of. Monday May 10th I got to the stop out of the neighborhood, to find several confused and irate passengers talking about how the stop across the street, coming into Greenridge Rd had been cancelled. Now, considering I had spoken with CARTA, ridden the buses, and discussed my options for getting to work with several of the drivers in the past few days, I was just a little perturbed. The multiple phone calls and conversations with CARTA that followed soon put me in the irate category. I posted a synopsis of those conversations on facebook and am including it here as well:

First I called CARTA's "customer service" number where I spoke with a 12 year-old who was trying to read me her turn-by-turn directions,

CSR: "bus 10 won't go down greenridge anymore. it will turn right on rivers, go all the way to kmart and turn left, then make a right on greenridge and a rght on antler."

Me: um, no, that's not possible. the kmart is past greenridge and you've just jumbled the old route and the new route together.

CSR: " wait a minute" shuffling and mumbling. "ok, bus 10 will come down rivers to greenridge and take antler to kmart."

Me: " you just said bus 10 is no longer going to come down greenridge!"

CSR: "wait a minute" horrible hold music

CSR: repeating what the voice behind her is saying, "buses 10 and 12 will go down rivers to the kmart" bus 12 won't go up greenridge anymore but will come down greenridge when it leaves the kmart."

Me: "when and why were these changes made, and why weren't the passengers notified?!" CSR: "I don't know, we were just told today"

Me: "that's really crappy customer service!"

Call #2 to CARTA was to speak with a supervisor who I've dealt with in the past. The phone was answered by the 12-year-old again.

Me: may I speak with Ms W please?"

CSR "Ok, but she's going to tell you the same thing I just did" I listened to the crappy hold music for 4 minutes

CSR 2: "CARTA, how can I help you?"

Me: I"m holding for MS WCSR 2: oh, you have to call back and put in extension 126

Me: y'all put me on hold for 4 minutes to tell me I have to call and put in an extension?!

Call 3 to CARTA,

I explained to Ms W (a supervisor for Veolia, the company that provides the drivers ) that I was standing at a bus stop w/ 6 other irate people because apparently our buses were no longer following the same route, and passengers were basically stranded. She gave me the the following explanation:

Ms W " We were just notified by CARTA on Friday that the stop was eliminated and the routes have been changed. Therefore the drivers and dispatchers weren't aware of the changes when you spoke with them, and that's why the CSR's are confused about the changes. The change was due to safety issues because when the bus stops there it holds up traffic.

Me: how do you do that without letting the passengers know? Who do we contact to complain?

Ms W: you can go to the monthly board meeting on the 3rd weds of the month, at 2pm

Me: that's great, except I, and most of your passengers WORK on weekdays at 2pm! Isn't there a person I can call, email or write to?

Ms W: you can try calling Peter, he handles the scheduling.

Me: can you please clarify where buses 10 and 12 are supposed to stop?

Ms W: 10 goes up rivers to Kmart, then continues onto Trident, so you need to get off at the convenience store on the other side of Rivers Ave (8 lanes of traffic!). 12 goes up Rivers to Kmart and will come back down Greenridge Rd and stop in front of Dial America.

I left Mr Peter a long, irate voicemail. Bus 106 then stops, and the driver informs us we need to get on and ride to the mall if we want to catch bus 10 or 12 as no other bus will stop in front of dial america.

Me: but Ms W just said bus 12 will stop here in 10 minutes.

Driver bus 106: "you can wait but it's not coming this way"

Me: "so now I get to call the supervisor and tell her she's got it wrong?

Driver bus 106: I'm not saying that, but bus 12 doesn't come down greenridge going either direction. So we all get on bus 106 to the mall.

Driver bus 12 later that day: "some of us were told late Friday, but most weren't told about the changes until this morning. Yes, we do come back down Greenridge from Kmart but we don't go up that way."

I contacted a friend who knows people, to ask if she happens to have the name of somebody higher up I can complain to. She told me to call CARTA back and ask for MR C.

CSR 3: "oh, he's at the dowtown office, you need to call this other number."

Secretary: "I can give him the message but I'm not sure he'll be back in today."

15 minutes later I get a call back from Mr Peter, who was returning my call to Mr C, because apparently Mr C was too busy to get back to me.

Mr Peter: (in charge of scheduling) "We've known about this for some time and informed the drivers. They were supposed to tell the passengers but of course some drivers aren't as friendly as others and don't talk to the passengers. and since their schedules just changed and they are new to the routes they might not know who the regulars are."

Me: "ok, I was told that there were public notices and public hearings announced to discuss the changes. Where and when? The last hearing/public notice I found in the local paper was back in November regarding changes to the route for bus 106. Doesn't it make sense to post notices on the buses and at the stop? I took a cab home and some poor lady is standing out there waiting on a bus that isn't coming. There isn't even an announcement or notice on YOUR website! In fact, some of the route information such as buses 12 and 106 is unavailable!"

Mr Peter: "we have someone new handling the website and the transition to another server is causing issues with the website for the last month or so. it's more complicated then it seems...."

All this and then when I came home from work on bus 12 two nights later, the driver came down Greenridge Road and stopped at the original stop!

Me: "I thought this wasn't a stop anymore?"

Driver bus 12: " this is the stop"

Me: I was told they changed the route

Driver, with a shrug, "I don't know"

So that was where things stood just a month ago....

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