[Nfbmo] Springfield transit users complain of late buses, confusion (From the evening edition of the Springfield News Leader)

Horchem Gary horchemg at gary-springfield-mo.net
Fri Feb 15 01:57:46 UTC 2013

Here's an article in the evening web edition of the of the Springfield
News Leader

City Utilities officials say recent route changes have reduced the
number of buses running late. But two riders who spoke to City Council
on Monday say a lack of information has left some passengers out in the
“It was the fact of how it was done,” Gary Horchem said of the route
changes that took effect Jan. 7. “There was no public hearing ... Yes,
they need to change routes, but they need a better process next time.”
Horchem said confusion among riders has only grown as CU has continued
making smaller changes to routes and times. Printed, color maps with
updated stop times still are not available, he said, making it difficult
to know when a bus will arrive or to plan trips spanning more than one
Erin Magoon, meanwhile, said CU’s Access Express service — which offers
low-cost van rides for injured or disabled passengers that can’t use the
fixed-route buses — has had problems, as well.
Magoon, who like Horchem is blind, said she stood outside Battlefield
Mall in the cold for more than an hour Jan. 6 after her scheduled ride
failed to arrive. Since then, she said, she’s had trouble scheduling
rides even when calling seven days in advance.
“I’m not sure what is going on,” Magoon said, adding that a lack of
communication from CU, not the missed ride, was the reason for her
complaint. “It seems to me something needs to be done.”
In an email to City Council members, CU General Manager Scott Miller
acknowledged the failure to pick up Magoon as scheduled.
“It is our intent to provide the best transit services we can given our
financial constraints,” Miller wrote. “I am sorry that you had to deal
with these items because we did not deliver the level of customer
service expected by a couple of our passengers. That said, we will learn
from these items and continue to strive to provide great customer

(Page 2 of 2)

An attached memo said Magoon’s ride and one other the same day
accidentally were left off a driver’s manifest, but two fixed-route
buses were rerouted to pick up Magoon when she reported the problem.
The memo notes that demand for Access Express has increased in the past
year but resources allocated to the service have not.
The service, which uses specially-equipped shuttle buses, provides up to
40 hours worth of trips each day at a price of $2.50 a ride.
CU spokesman Joel Alexander said the service provided 1,887 rides in
October, up 31 percent from 1,441 during the same period in 2011. The
year-to-year increase in November was 17 percent, from 1,489 in 2011 to
1,742 in 2012.
The increased demand has made scheduling more difficult, Alexander said.
“That may be something we will have the transit folks look at.”
Echoing Miller’s memo, Alexander said CU tried to publicize the bus
route changes in multiple ways but will try to improve the process in
the future.
“The changes to the coverage were really minor, but we did have to make
a few changes to the schedule,” he said, noting some tweaks still are
being made. “That’s going to be really fluid on these routes and
schedules as we make these changes.”
As a result, “there isn’t a finalized, large-scale map” of the new
routes with stop times, he said, although an interim map and cards with
maps and schedules for individual routes have been made available
online, on buses and at transit facilities.
Alexander said CU staff also consulted with the utility’s Fixed Route
Advisory Committee about a month before the changes were implemented.
“Mr. Horchem is actually a member of that committee,” which includes
members representing riders, the disabled community and bus drivers,
Alexander said.
Horchem said he was out of town at the time of the Dec. 11 meeting and
got conflicting information from other members when he asked Alexander said a full public hearing was not required because service
was not being reduced and the changes only affected a few routes.
“When it’s all said and done we added miles,” he said. Even so, “going
forward, we want to go ahead and have a public hearing any time we want
to make a change, whether it’s required or not.”
Miller’s memo said CU also will allow more time to create and print maps
and other documents in advance of significant changes.
In the meantime, Alexander asked for patience as the new routes are
“We feel we’ve made the south end especially more timely and easier to
get around,” he said. “It takes a little time to finesse those into the
best system for us and the best system for passengers.”
For information, help planning a trip or to lodge a complaint, call
Transit Services: (417) 831-8782.

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