Friday, June 27, 2014

Fed up with bus problems no one wants to deal with

I'm not sure who orchestrated the script of lies to be told to bus passengers but if Metrolinx CEO and brass want to live up to their promises of transparency, they need to take a good hard look at how GO Transit interacts with taxpayers AKA passengers.

What the hell is wrong with telling a passenger the truth about why a bus is late or didn't show up at all? This crap about a mechanical malfunction only to be told another story about traffic congestion, then told an all out lie of a bus reported to be on time when I have a Twitter status timeline of a bus being 17 minutes late? Not cool.

I'm not sure who leads the social media team at Metrolinx but the person or team managing that account is either a hamster or a bunch of robots because the lack of interaction is insulting. I don't ride GO Transit for free. I pay, on average, $309 a month to use their services. If I ask a question, I deserve an answer - even if it was on Twitter.

The folks on the GO Transit Twitter panel are more interactive but the boilerplate apologies and promises of looking into complaints were charming at first, but now it's just apparent it's all a script to appease a frustrated customer base.

This week was an extremely important one at work. A combination of it being month-end with a four-day long weekend looming on the horizon meant time was super tight, with several projects that needed to be completed. Plus, it didn't help I lost a day of productivity getting high off drugs administered during oral surgery.

On Tuesday, after waiting 10 minutes for a bus that looked like it wasn't coming, I told my bus mates as I managed to snag a taxi (no small feat when you live in rural Clarington) that I couldn't stick around and risk missing any train leaving Oshawa GO before 8 am. I offered to share the fare but I was the only one in a time crunch. Tuesday was launch day for an important company initiative. Being late was not an option. 

Thirty dollars later, and as I exited the cab that got me to the station at 7:48, don't I see the Route 90 bus - my bus - pull in at 7:49. People ran to catch the 7:53 train. I was livid. I found out the bus was 17 minutes late. One bus mate told me the driver did not give an explanation for being late, instead he offered an apology. I sat in the Quiet Zone and fumed. Someone owes me $30.

Had I known the bus was at least coming and would be at the station in time for the 7:53, I would have waited. In total, it cost almost $49 to get to and from work that day. Paying the GO fare for the train was further insult to injury.

To make a long story short, I found out that GO Transit is mandated not to instruct passengers about late arrivals of buses until 20 minutes past the scheduled arrival time. Twenty minutes?! In this day and age of GPS, real-time tracking, mobile communications and two way radio?! Twenty minutes in the commuting world means missed train connections and opportunities to take local transit. How the hell is any bus passenger supposed to make a decision to take that city bus that arrives three minutes before the GO bus, but takes twice as long to get to the station, is actually the better alternative because your GO bus is running 17 minutes behind schedule or has disappeared?

Last summer, there were three occasions where my regularly scheduled bus didn't show up. On all three occasions I was told no one knew what happened. How the fuck (pardon the language but I find that statement ludicrous) does a company like GO Transit lose a bus? How is that possible? And see, you can't bullshit me because my dad worked for a logistics firm, his trucks were equipped with GPS technology as far back as 1998. He couldn't stop to take a pee without it being noted he was idle or off-route. You can't tell me that GO Transit isn't using fleet management technology. Is it bargain basement technology? Has anyone tested it lately? 

Earlier on the blog I ran a story about GO's bus tracking implementation courtesy of my resident guest blogger. GO Transit promised full functionality by February 2014. This included stop announcements and the opportunity to obtain real-time bus availability. Metrolinx won't provide answers for the delay. None of this acceptable. The silence is unacceptable. The election is long over.

Wake up.


KM said...

My opinion? If TTC managed to implement a method of real time tracking. . why can't GO?!

Very well said!

Anonymous said...

.. I am frustrated too by the lack of preperation in implementing the automated systems and GPS on the bus fleet. They now tell us that it will be late August before the system is rolled out and fully operational ... after saying that it will be running by June.

Let's get it together.

Peter said...

Customer Relations promised me last September the new system would be implemented by January of this year. GO Transit has some serious credibility issues.

TomW said...

20 minutes late is not an acceptable threshold. Every transit agency I've worked with has defined "on time" as being between 1 minutes before and 3 or 4 minutes after the scheduled time.
I understand them not sending out alerts/messages for a bus that's 5 minuets late, but that information should still be available in some way. If it's not, then messages should be sent out at the 10-minute mark.

Secondary point: GO's route 90 has the sole purpose of feeding the GO Train (from GO's point of view, anyway). So why is it 17 minutes late and still get you to the right train?? That implies it's scheduled to arrive 21 minutes before the train departs, which is excessive.

Michael Suddard said...

Feeling better?

I can tell from the venting in this entry you must.

I can't believe it either that YRT can have a real time map showing where everything is and how far behind schedule they are on their website, GO Transit can't.

They use the same crap init system to track their buses. So the technology is out there. Or perhaps, like their trains, the delays are little embarassing to mention to the common folk (i.e. the taxpayers and passengers) who pay for their services.

Perhaps a note to @femwriter would help. Wait..she only answers questions from media like Ellen Roseman and Jack Lakey. Perhaps the latter would like to give this a try. He has tackled TTC and Presto issues, GO Transit should be pretty easy.

Squiggles said...

I am still waiting on a response from Metrolinx about why the 18.18 LSE train consistently arrives late and leaves at least 15 mins late. I sent in an email, they were going to pass it along. I asked when I would hear back and it has been two weeks.

True, it isn't that big of a time difference, but it does mean that you cannot rely on them to make connecting buses. Similar issue, same company. No answers.

Anonymous said...

Wow ... let's just slam and defame the very company that give u a cheaper ride to work than taking a taxi. Good for u, I aplaude you. If u don't like the service they provide, then take a cab every day for a week then u can decide which is better. 'Nuff said.

C.J. Smith said...

I'm sorry?! What CHEAPER RIDE???!!!!
You think GO Transit is cheap???
Ask the people who come in from Kitchener and Barrie. It's a car payment.

Second, I am on Ontario Taxpayer. GO Transit and Metrolinx are government agencies not PRIVATELY funded. They are not PRIVATE sector businesses. There is no defamation going on. I have plenty of evidence of passengers not being given the straight story about delays and the boiler plate emails to back them up.

Mind you, I will say that when it comes to PRESTO, GO Transit does go the extra mile to help passengers wade through the mess that sometimes occurs, especially with underpayments. The CSRs at GO work really hard to help solve PRESTO's limitations.

Where do I say I don't like the service I get? I very much like the service GO provides - what I don't like are the broken promises and late delivery on services WE PAY FOR.

Climb down from that Ivory Tower on Bay Street with your FREE rides and try to understand what it's like at street level.

Anonymous said...

question for anonadouche at 2:23 pm.

if you bought a car and you were promised it came with a gps system or some high end stereo system and it didn't have it, but you had to take delivery anyway because you need to get to work and you already sold your previous car, and let's say Acura was happily deducting $419 every month from your back account telling you that the system was coming in any day now.

fast forward six months later and you're still paying for something you don't have. sure, the car is getting you to work but where's the sound system you were promised? sure, it's got the base model stereo but that wasn't what you were told you would get.

you tell me with a straight face you wouldn't complain. please.