Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Where's My Bus?
Icy, Snowy Conditions Make It Difficult to Keep to Schedule
Day Three of the 2012 snow storm is nearly complete, and buses are still on the road. Demand has been down this week, but many, many people are relying on Community Transit buses to get to work or wherever they need to go.
Today, our local buses deviated from our regular schedule because many roads were in bad condition due to accumulated snow and ice, and because predictions for today were worse than what actually materialized.
A combination of factors led to this schedule: we can't use articulated buses on icy roads (unless we chain them but those chains then break or severely slow down the buses on clear roads); like any business, we don't get everyone to show up on bad weather days; and our buses are interlined so that one bus may serve, say Route 120 for a trip, then it turns into Route 118. With fewer buses running and trips taking longer, the trips we can actually provide is like a patchwork among our routes.
This is hard to message to riders. What we said this morning is that we'd serve the first and last trips on each route, and there would likely be some buses in between. Not too helpful. We encouraged people to call customer information to learn if a bus was running on their route.
The good news is that buses were running all day on all routes, just not on regular schedule. That also may not be very helpful if you're trying to figure out when to travel, but we were able to provide a lot of service today. We also got more than 1,800 phone calls as riders asked where their bus was. Again, we couldn't tell them where it was but at least could say there was one out there, on the way.
On Seattle commuter routes, the Double Talls have proven their value. Not only can they fit more people than a regular bus, but they operate just fine in these conditions. By replacing old articulated buses with these double deckers, we have greatly increased the capacity we have for commuter service on snow days.
We have, and will continue to send alerts on any reroutes or major changes to service. Those are also posted on our website as soon as we get the information. Like our drivers and maintenance crews, our customer service and communications staff are working long days to provide you service.