Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bring Back the Stagecoach!

I've blogged about our local mass transit before, but it's such a mess, there's much to write about.
I started using public transportation back in my college days. In fact, it was during my first week at St. Louis University that I rode a bus for the first time. Back then, mass transit was reliable (for the most part). We knew where the stops were and when the buses would arrive. We didn't wonder from one day to the next if we'd have transportation or not.


Today, things are much less certain. Not too long ago, financial problems led Metro to terminate several bus routes. The federal government rode to the rescue, providing funds to restore several routes and, for a short time, improve service. They bought new buses--with better wheelchair access, which is a good thing. When Mom was wheelchair bound, we had trouble taking her anywhere because more often than not, the buses' wheelchair lifts didn't work. We were once stranded at the mall for three hours, waiting for a mechanic to come and repair the lift.
What's not so good about the new buses is that, if the driver does not either pull up close to the curb or lower the bus, boarding can be difficult. Two years ago, Collin and I boarded one of the newbies for the first time. The driver could see that I was having a problem but did not lower the bus. I fell. I ended up bruised from thigh to ankle--and even now, I still have problems with that leg. Did the driver do anything to help? No. Last weekend, I boarded another one at the mall. Once again, the driver failed to lower the bus or pull to the curb. And if Collin had not been there, I would have fallen again. (About half of Metro's operators are in serious need of some attitude adjustment. I could do a month of blogs on these horror stories.)


Another thing I don't understand about the new buses: if Metro's objective is to increase ridership, why did they buy buses that accomodate fewer passengers? Duh!
Which brings me to their latest blunder: reduction of bus stops, presumably to save fuel. Now, I know zero about how that sort of thing works, but I do know that by reducing the number of stops, the loss of passengers is inevitable. Not everyone who normally uses public transportation will be able--or even willing--to walk several blocks to a stop. Will they lose more in fares than the gain in fuel costs? It's going to be difficult to get around for a while. Where do we board? And when we reach our destination, will we be able to get off the bus? There's no way of knowing.


Collin and I discovered the bus stop nearest our place was no longer a bus stop on Saturday. No warning, nothing. I haven't checked it out yet, but Collin says the closest stop to our place is at least six blocks to the south. To the north, it's about a half-mile walk to the mall. Not too bad in good weather--but winter's coming.
I complained--via e-mail, Twitter and message boards on the local TV station websites. Yesterday, I was informed that our stop would be restored. In two weeks.
Two weeks?
I'm not sure why it will take two weeks to put up a bus stop sign that was just removed. Did they destroy them already? Well, I just bought a thirty-day pass I won't be able to use for...fourteen days?


Mr. Nations, I'd like a refund. Or at the very least, a fourteen-day pass to take effect on November 28th. E-mail me and I'll give you my mailing address.  





21 comments:

  1. I've only taken public transportation a handful of times....not my best experience. I'd rather drive.

    I hate relying on someone else to get to where I want to go. But, I've been there during my college years, having to rely on the bus systems...and, when they're not very reliable, well,...I think I'd rather walk.

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  2. I take public transit if I have to go somewhere further afield then I'd like, or if the weather's rotten. Here the buses have all switched over to lowering and extending ramps for wheelchairs in the last few years. There were recent overhauls made to the system that resulted in some routes being cut or drastically altered. For someone like me who doesn't mind a walk to the stop, that doesn't matter, but for someone who can't make the walk, it can be a lot of trouble.

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  3. Unbelievable. Thoughtless and not friendly. I guess they figure people have no choice. I am sorry you fell and hurt yourself.

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  4. Sounds like you are a great advocate for community issues. The fact that you can communicate clearly with government officials will be a huge asset to anyone needing reliable transportation. I hope it gets resolved before you have to resort to starting a revolution, because if anyone can do that--I bet you can and you will. I also hope they give you a two week refund. Dorks. Maybe the transportation issue is a good platform to start a political career. I'd vote for you!

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  5. They really do need a lesson in manners. Maybe the bigger the bureaucracy the more thoughtless they are....

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  6. I believe pubic transportation can be a very good thing. It's good for the environment. And for people like me who, for medical reasons, can't drive, it can be a godsend. And they do have many good drivers. Unfortunately, the asshole percentage is just way too high.

    And then there's the safety issue. I can't tell you how many drivers I've ridden with who are always talking on their cellphones, even though I'm told it's against company rules. A few have refused to start their runs until they finish a conversation. I was on a bus once with a female driver in bad weather who actually did her hair and makeup while driving.

    @TDR: Me, in politics? What, do you want to star World WarIII?

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  8. If you check out You Tube, you'll find several videos on the subject of poor service from Metro bus operators....

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  9. No, we just want to get a few things accomplished. Our state is finally approving some high speed rail lines that will be finished in 2033. I'm sure I'll be jumping at the chance to travel in my eighties and nineties.

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  10. We had a light rail plan in the works here, contracts signed... and the previous mayor came in, cancelling the whole thing simply because he personally didn't agree with it. The city lost millions in penalty fees and startup work because of that ass and his ego.

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  11. We have a light rail--which came in behind schedule and over budget. As I recall, lawsuits were involved.

    Did I mention Arts in Transit? A while back, a local TV reporter investigated it--though the company has been complaining about a lack of money for a few years now, supposedly there's a large sum put aside to post art at bus and rail stations. I don't think I've ever seen anybody pay a moment's attention to any of it. We're only concerned with getting where we're going!

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  12. Art should be in places where we have time to look at it, not where we're rushing about.

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  13. That's what we have galleries and museums for!

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  14. I love riding the bus.
    When I live in Kansas City and worked for Hallmark I rode the bus all winter. So much easier. Forget the snow it was the Ice Storms that were super bad.
    When I am in Japan I ride the bus and trains all the time so convenient and super clean.
    They just put a bus stop near my home but it is to far for me to walk to, I would need to drive my car and park, seems a shame.

    cheers, parsnip

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  15. I'm not surprised, parsnip. The transit system in Japan is quite efficient. Ours is not...unfortunately.

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  16. Where I grew up, there was not mass transit. Nor was there in any place I've lived except St. Louis. So I have never had the pleasure. But it sounds very inefficient here. Sometimes I think, it is not budget cuts we need, it is better service and then more people would utilize services.

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  17. Oh, believe me, Carole, it's no pleasure!

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  18. It's been a week now and the bus stop sign has STILL not been replaced. I have a doctor appointment next week. I wonder if I'll have to change it....

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  19. The sign was replaced as of this morning at 8 a.m. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

    Sincerely,
    Courtney Sloger
    Metro

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  20. A big shout-out to Courtney--the only person at Metro who's taken any kind of action! Thank you!

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  21. Yeah Courtney! Thanks to you and your Metro team for helping my friend Norma and her neighbors. Norma is a mover and a shaker who knows how to get things done! She has my vote!

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