Friday, April 9, 2010

Bus Pass

If I write politically charged blogs, I tend to censor myself, because I don't want to offend any relatives or friends that it might directly affect. I used not to be this way. When I was in school, I used to write things all the time that were controversial. As I got older, I became more aware of how my words would affect people close to me. However, today I must revert back to those school days.

The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (CMRTA) runs our buses. It used to be run by SCANA, which was the local elcctric company, but the buses were taken over by this entity several years ago. One plus was that the buses followed their schedules more closely. One minus was that some routes were eliminated. All in all, I have had a positive impression of the bus system, until last week. Because I have to ride the buses, since my car blew up last year, it has been my major form of getting around. I walk a lot too. In order to ride the bus, you need either cash (you better have exact change) or you need a pass of some sort. Generally, there are two kinds of passes. The first is a monthly bus pass. This costs $40, and it entitles you to ride the buses for a month, no matter how many times. The second pass is the 10-ride pass which costs $12. Since it costs $1.50 to ride the bus each way, the 10-ride pass basically gives you one trip free.

So last week, my monthly bus pass ran out, and I needed a new one. I took my $40 to the transit station downtown (which is the only place one can purchase a pass), and I was told that they didn't have any. Upon further discussion with the worker there, I found out that they only have 10 of these passes per employee shift. They had plenty of the 10-ride pass, so I bought one of those. I used it up in two days. I went back to the station and was told they still didn't have any month passes with the same excuse. I had seen others with these passes riding the buses. How could they get them and not me? I had to buy a 10-ride pass again. I used it up in 3 days. So today, I went back to the transit station to see about a month pass and was told to come back at 2, when the employee shift changed, and maybe I could get one then.

I was livid. So, I called customer service for the CMRTA. I had actually done that last week too, and left my name and number for them to get back with me, since they are too afraid to answer the phone, but no one got back with me. I emailed them too, with no response from them. Of course, today the customer service supervisor didn't answer her phone (her name is Brittany), so I left antother message. This one was a bit more terse, even though I apologized to her if I seemed rude. But, she hasn't called back. What does "customer service" mean? I did it for 30 years and won awards. Does it mean that they just sit back in their offices and do nothing but get a paycheck and go home? Who cares about the customer?

With the economy being as it is, a lot of people are riding the buses now. I know that the $40 bus pass does not generate as much revenue as the $12 pass or the $1.50 cash ride, but it is convenient to use. I wonder if they trust their employees not to handle large amounts of cash, as they sit behind a bullet-proof glass window at the station. And, why does one have to go to the transit station to get a pass? Why can't you order one online and have them mail it to you? And, why do you have to use cash? Why can't you use debit or credit cards to purchase these passes. They know they have me over a barrel here, because I am downtown, and I am staying 10 miles away. I could walk it, I suppose, but they know I won't, so I will pay whatever they want me to pay.

People need to wake up and see how this company treats its riders. Their customer service is a joke. Now that I have vented, I will return to more nice thoughts. Maybe.

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