MetroRail's service disruption inconvenienced Lucas Wall

Poor Lucas Wall was inconvenienced by Metro. It's really not wise to do that to the Chronicle's transportation guy, because then he doesn't write a happy column:

MetroRail has endured more than 100 service disruptions since the Main Street line opened in January 2004. Despite all that practice, the transit authority still hasn't nailed down how to handle these incidents.

I was among the evening commuters inconvenienced one day last week while trying to get home from work. Metro shut down southbound train service for 41 minutes because a mechanical problem left a train motionless near Wheeler Station in Midtown.

MetroRail has had over 100 service disruptions? I don't think that was in Metro's "Startling Facts" press release, which we can no longer access. And I would quibble with Wall's characterization. He says MetroRail has endured the service disruptions. It would be more accurate to say that MetroRail's passengers have had to endure the disruptions, because of the light rail's terrible design.

Let's look at a couple more of Wall's complaints:

A colleague and I decided to wait. But we're not usually bus riders. We didn't know which number bus would take us where we were headed. There are no maps at the stop.

[snip]

I spotted a Route 1 bus and figured that would do, waving my hands to indicate "please stop." The bus whizzed right by us, and hit a red light at the next intersection. I decided to make a dash for it.

Before the light changed, I made it on the bus. I asked the driver, who declined to give his name, why he drove past us.

"Did you not see us waving?" I inquired. "Do you not know the train is shut down?"

The man responded with an attitude, "I don't know anything about the train. You were not waiting at a number 1 stop, so I did not stop. You need to wait at the correct bus stop."

He obviously did not understand the situation or the need to be a little more accommodating during an atypical operating condition.

Hands down, that has to be in the running for great Chronicle moments! Translation: the stupid Metro bus driver didn't know he was talking to THE transportation writer for the Chronicle and therefore made THE unforgivable error of not stopping! That is a paragraph to be savored and remembered!

Unfortunately for that poor Metro bus driver, Wall has a big forum to air his complaints -- unlike the rest of Metro's ridership -- and he has the ear of Metro leadership.

Contrast that with Laurence Simon's recent experience:

I pulled out my phone again and called the METRO hotline on the sign.

Folks, I've never talked to a live human being on that number. Ever. I've waited for over 30 minutes at times and never gotten anyone. In fact, as an experiment, I tried to call from my desk at work and left it on the hold tape for almost and hour and never gotten anyone.

But not Lucas Wall. He can go right to the top with his story of inconvenience and he gets results:

"We will remind and encourage all rail operators to be more specific in the instructions they provide to minimize any inconvenience or confusion for passengers," Lambert said.

[snip]

"In this instance, it did not occur and the dispatcher has been disciplined," Lambert said.

[snip]

Lambert said the Metro Safety & Training Division will review the conduct of the Route 1 operator.

I would strongly suggest that all Metro employees take a good look at Wall's photo and commit it to memory. If they value their jobs, they'll remember to "understand the situation" and "be a little more accommodating" the next time Wall's light rail trip is disrupted.

One more thing: this isn't the first time Wall has been inconvenienced by Metro; the following paragraph appears in his column documenting that unfortunate experience:

Connaughton advises riders not to wait at bus stops unless a sign for your route is posted. But he also said Metro policy requires drivers stopped at a red light in the curb lane to open the door for a passenger regardless of whether it's a marked stop.

But today's column has this paragraph:

Bus drivers normally are instructed to stop only at marked stops for their route. But when train service is halted, bus dispatchers are supposed to notify drivers to look for stranded passengers.

Which is it?

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 03/28/05 10:40 AM | Print |

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