Friday, August 05, 2005

DC Mass Transit: Extreme Incompetence

First, a truly humiliating experience - I lodged an email complaint which will probably be ignored, but somebody's gotta do it:

Bus failed to stop at bus stop. I was waiting in the covered, clear bus pad at Clarendon Blvd (southbound) and N Highland St. The pad is not well lit, but the bus stopped a 1/2 block down the street to pick up another passenger who was still making his way north, walking up Clarendon Blvd. I ran out into the street and chased the bus, waving my arms. The bus quickly took off, despite my Ben Johnson-like sprint after it. I was only 30 meters or so behind the bus when it took off. There is simply no way the bus driver could not have known I was there, because the kid who got on the bus down the street obviously noticed the lunatic chasing the bus in the middle of the street. The bus did not even appear to slow down at the bus stop. I am not sure s/he knew it was there.

The bus was supposed to show up at 12.52 am - it showed about 12.50 am by my watch and the NextBus clock inside the bus pad. Fine - I was there early, but it is unnacceptable for a driver to purposely leave someone behind, and it is similarly wrong for a driver to be so sleepy as to pass someone waiting in the bus pad, on time, and still fail to recognize them when they are chasing the bus down the street. At a minimum, when the bus is pulling away from the curb, the driver should check his rearview, at which point he would surely have seen me, as i was far enough away still from the back of the bus.

That was a completely humiliating experience, and left me stranded in Clarendon without a phone, without a wallet, and without information on if/when there might be another 38B bus, and without enough money for a taxi.


So, I got to jog 4 miles home - not that big a deal, but 4 miles at bar closing time and it's still 80+ degrees outside isn't necessarily my idea of a good time. No 'Run, Forest, Run' shouts, which was a bit disappointing, but with DC mass transit on the case, I'm sure I'll have another opportunity in the near future.

Had another experience on the new DC Circulator today, so thought I should file a complaint on that one, too. This one wasn't that humiliating for me, but it pissed me off nonetheless, because it's just shows a total ineptness, incompetence, disregard for common sense, etc.:

One of the DC Circulator signs at Union Station is very confusing. There is one towards the 'inside' of the roundabout at Union Station, and there's is one on the 'outside' of the roundabout.

Of course, when the Circulator bus pulls up, people try to get on, and of course, the driver has to tell people to walk 20 meters 'over there' - pointing out another Circulator sign, where the bus can stop, and slow thru traffic, on the 'outside' of the roundabout.

Now, regardless of the reasoning behind putting another bus stop in a high-flow traffic area, the Circulator sign on the inside of the roundabout is still confusing. The buses waiting in the Union Station roundabout look as if they can and should be boarded - especially with a sign indicating that where the buses are waiting is where they should be boarded - of course. This is all common sense, unless we're talking about the DC Circulator Bus and Union Station - in *that* case, you must throw logic out the window and apply 'DC Mass Transit' logic - which is to say, whatever makes *least* sense, is probably what is supposed to happen. So, the rider, if wise to the ways of the DC mass transit folks, should look for the highest density traffic thoroughfare and assume that the bus stop will be smack dab in this middle of that thoroughfare.

It was a hassle for me, a DC local, to not know where to stand for a bus which is supposed to make commuting in the city easier, especially for tourists, but this longtime DC resident was unable to accurately obtain this seemingly simple-to-relay piece of information.

Needless to say, when the bus did finally show up on the other side of the Union Station roundabout, people had to hustle to make it to the bus on time - especially the partially crippled girl who was stupid enough to assume that the prescense of a DC Circulator sign was an indication that this was an area she could board the DC Circulator bus. No, I'm not kidding, this girl literally hustled her hobbling ass over to the bus because she was afraid of getting left behind, as did others, only this particular girl wasn't as quick as the rest of us. I would have asked the bus driver to wait, of course, but the point is that we shouldn't have people running to catch a bus, especially when they're where they think they're supposed to be, and all indicators *are* that they're where they're supposed to be.

My metropass card worked, or didn't, but the driver told me I needed to deposit another 35 cents, and i deposited a dollar bill instead - as change is not my forte. Of course, the big metropass image on the money-taking machine might lead one to believe that the machine would be smart enough to deduct a whole dollar from one's smart card, but again, this is DC mass transit we're talking about here.

The DC Circulator was a great idea, implemented to near disastrous perfection.

Congratulations, one and all.

Out in San Fran, I actually saw an ad in a BART (Metro) station that directly criticized BART leaders. I was shocked. Would they allow that in DC? Was there even a group of folks in DC organized to do such a thing? If not, we need one.

Don't know if this was the San Fran group or not, whose ad I saw.

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