Sunday, June 13, 2010

The saga begins...

On July 2nd of last year I totalled my car and discovered myself embarking on a new endeavor - getting around Charleston via CARTA, our version of public transportation. I had actually rented my apartment in Park Circle because it was close to work and a local bus stop. As a single person who values my independence I knew there may come a time when my car might temporarily be out of service. Of course I didn't expect it to become a way of life, but as they say, "The best laid plans of mice and men..."!

The first couple of weeks I had to rely on my neighbors for transportation, until my leg healed from the accident and I could actually walk the half mile to the bus stop. Then the adventure began. My first trip should have clued me in....I called CARTA and spoke with one of their "customer service" reps who told me I needed to get on bus 104 at the corner of N. Rhett and Park Circle. I noticed when I got to the stop that the sign only indicated bus 101, so when that bus pulled up and the driver advised me bus 104 didn't run through the circle, I got on for the trip to the Super Stop. The driver then contacted her dispatcher, who informed her that I did indeed need to catch bus 104 back at the original stop. So I called into work and took an hour of leave time to make up for the fact I had to wait until bus 101 returned me to the correct stop. So began my experience of dealing with CARTA, the mecca for misinformation, confusion, and long hold times with the world's crappiest hold music.

Don't get me wrong, I have always been a proponent of public trasportation, and have made use of bus services in other cities. And I have had some great experiences with both the drivers and passengers of CARTA. I went into the situation with full expectations that dealing with public transportation has it's inconveniences and flaws, and that patience and flexibility would be required. I learned quickly that I not only needed a backup plan, but plans C and D are a necessity as well. For the many who have spent years relying on CARTA I'm sure they've earned a place in the Matyr's Hall of Fame for their patience and suffering!

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