Thursday, November 16, 2006

why Metro service sucks

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve bitched about Metro and I could go on and on about the huge delays on the Red Line this morning or about how I almost fell down the stairs at Ballston Metro because the power was out. However, I think I finally get why Metro service sucks.

I was waiting for my bus this morning, in the pouring rain. I was hoping with all of my heart that my bus would actually arrive soon. My experiences with buses on rainy days are never positive. In fact, I’m lucky if they arrive at all. So, I stood in the bus shelter, trying to stay dry, when lo and behold, I see the bus. And it’s only 15 minutes late. SHOCKER. The fact that it was only 15 minutes late was no surprise (it’s late on perfectly sunny days). I was more shocked by its arrival.

I got on the bus and noticed that there was a Metro employee sitting in the seats normally reserved for the elderly and disabled. He had a clipboard full of forms and he appeared to be writing something every time the bus driver stopped. I thought, Oh my God, the Metro driver is getting evaluated! I had no idea these things actually happen. It appears that Metro actually cares about the service they provide. And for the second time this morning, I was shocked by Metro.

I didn’t have high hopes that anything actually comes out of these evaluations. I’d be surprised if the really bad bus drivers actually drive badly when they know they’re being watched. Regardless, I was pleased to see customer service improvement in action (or at least the intent for improvement). That is until the evaluator fell asleep.

Yes, the Metro employee doing the evaluation actually fell asleep during the ride. The irony is that the Metro bus driver didn’t mess up until the evaluator fell asleep. A rider had signaled for a stop and the bus driver just kept on going, missing the rider’s stop completely, despite the rider’s desperate pleas to get the driver to stop. The driver came to a stop half way between the rider’s intended stop and the upcoming stop. The evaluator woke up again when we got to Ballston.

So, why does Metro service suck? Despite the fact that there are mechanisms in place to improve service, they are ineffective and useless. And now they’ve got some guy from LA’s transit system to run Metro? I’m not going to even hope for improvement.

1 comment:

Golden Silence said...

I've heard that Metro drivers aren't trained on how to navigate their routes...but on how to simply operate the vehicle. Once they know how to drive a bus, lord knows what happens when they take on a route. I've had too many drivers not know how to drive on their routes, only for some passenger to tell them how to get to where they're going. Also, when it comes to missed stops, it happens too damn often. Those drivers are into their own little worlds to care about their jobs.