Rider Alerts (Or What Not To Do)

Sometimes routes change. Other times bus stops may be temporarily closed. Whatever the case, there is (or rather, there should be) a general sequence of events that occurs to communicate this to transit riders:

  1. Decision is made (on route change, stop closure, etc).
  2. Informational flyers are printed up.
  3. Said flyers are then distributed appropriately to be placed upon buses and the affected areas as needed (and this should all be done a minimum of two weeks prior to effective date).
  4. The website is also updated appropriately to provide notice to riders.
  5. Customer Service Agents are given the needed information to properly inform riders and answer any questions.
  6. Bus Drivers should also be given information on the change(s) so that they can let their riders now, especially if they’re driving a route that will be directly effected by the action.
  7. When said action becomes effective, all means of communication mentioned above should continue on, so that all riders, frequent and infrequent, have had a chance to get the information they need.
  8. Finally, if the change in question is semi-permanent (“long-term”) or fully permanent, any and all literature (pocket schedules, bus books, online route maps, etc) are appropriately updated within 48 hours of effectiveness to reflect the new and current information.

I mention all this because of a small route change that I mentioned in a post last week. Since Monday, Route 225 has been extended in Richland to serve the Columbia Point area via Columbia Point Drive and Bradley Blvd. Over the last week, my personal experiences related to this change have gone like this:

  1. 12/28/11: Driver offhandedly makes a P/A announcement to riders on a late-morning 225 run to let everyone know that the 225 will be changing the following week. All the riders are full of questions, but more so out of curiosity than anything else. I then send out this post a bit hastily, largely because I’m caught off-guard and am a bit surprised but still want to help get the word out.
  2. 1/2/12: I ride up to Knight Street TC in Richland via the 120WB. Enroute, I notice that the stop flag on the northeast side of the George Washington Way & Columbia Point Drive/Aaron Drive intersection (served by westbound routes) is still there, and is still marked as a 225 stop. At the stop on the opposite side of the street, I notice an elderly woman standing there, pacing back and forth. (I should note that the 120 does not have any posted stops at all on George Washington Way.) When I arrived at Knight Street TC, I headed to the waiting 225 and informed the driver that the woman is waiting for this bus, hoping he’ll try and do something to remedy the situation. His response? “Well, hopefully she figures out that the buses are turning at the corner…” Needless to say, that would’ve been an appropriate moment for a BFT supervisor to be present at the TC. When we finally had left Knight Street TC and were coming towards the end of the new extension, I could see that the elderly woman was no longer there (possibly picked up by the 120EB), but there was a younger fellow waiting with a bike. When we got the green light to turn left off Columbia Point Drive and onto the freeway entrance ramp, the rider obviously figured out what was happening and tried to flag down the bus, but it was to no avail. I’m about 99% sure the driver never saw him, and irregardless it wouldn’t have been safe for the bus to pull over and wait for him in that particular area.
  3. 1/3/12: I again take a ride on the 225, this time on the westbound route from 22nd Ave TC in Pasco, to see if anything has changed since the previous day. When boarding, I notice some flyers in the schedule book holder at the front of the bus. Interesting to note is that the language used at the top of the flyer indicates that this is not a permanent change, but rather a trial. When the 225 made it to Richland, I again looked at the stops at GW Way & Columbia Point Drive/Aaron Drive and still saw the stop flags there, and they were still marked as full-time 225 stops (versus Saturday-only stops). However, the stop on the northwest side of the intersection did have a rider notice posted. When I get a chance to see it (hopefully by the end of the week), I’ll update this post with what it says. Later, while heading towards Kennewick via the 120EB, I noticed that the stop in front of Chase Bank on Jadwin Ave did not have anything to indicate the 225 wouldn’t be stopping there (today at least). It was also around this time that a rider was asking the driver about the new extension to the 225, but it didn’t seem like the driver really knew much about it.

So, that’s that. All I can really say in conclusion is this: All transit agencies have their strengths, but rider alerts are not one of Ben Franklin Transit’s.


2 Comments on “Rider Alerts (Or What Not To Do)”

  1. Paul Parker says:

    May we use your Columbia County Public Transportation photo in the Transportation Commission’s 2011 Annual Report?

    • Zac says:

      Sure thing! If you’ve got any questions or need to reach me directly, I’ve added contact info to the “About/Contact” page.

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