Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Waiting Game

Waiting is what every MATAplus rider must be good at

By Timothy Redd
Timothy Redd
There is nothing worse than having to wait for ride that is running late. If you are a MATAplus rider, I am sure you know how this game goes. You wait to speak to someone after holding on because the phone system keeps going to voicemail, waiting on the bus that’s well pass the 30 minute pickup window to get you to your destination, and waiting for MATA to straighten up and offer consistent good service. Does that sound like what you are waiting for?

One of my favorite John Mayer Songs is “Waiting for the World to Change,” one of my favorite lyrics is “it’s hard to beat the system when we are standing at a distance.” For many people with disabilities MATAplus is the only transportation option available that’s affordable or accessible and yet our community is detached from upward mobility because of a broken system that does not run efficiently. That is how I feel. 

In order to elevate us from an impoverished community, we need a job and a reliable way to get there. Since using this service it’s amazing that I actually still have a job considering the number of times I have been late all because I was waiting on the bus.

Every morning I spring out of bed at 6:20 AM to get ready for work.  The bus is supposed to pick me up at 7:30 AM so that I can be at work for my scheduled 9 o’clock punch in. Monday’s February 6th episode took the cake. At 8:30 AM I called dispatch to get an ETA for my bus, the MATA agent responded that the bus would arrive at 10 or 11 because several drivers called in sick. The agent said nothing was available in my area. 
Graph shows MATAplus ridership growing from about 1500 in 2013 to about 3000 in 2015

I was shocked when I heard this. I don’t know if the drivers were recovering from a drunken episode of Sunday’s Super Bowl 51 shocking upset between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. Regardless of the reason, MATA’s service was unacceptable. 

I called my boss to let him know and we were both baffled at the answer I got from dispatch. I decided to just call Lyft to get to work, it’s a great service to me but not for long distances. My morning commute to work cost me twenty two bucks. I have filed a complaint about this incident with MATAplus and have yet to speak to anyone on a resolution to this issue.

The issues that exist with this company are nothing new, and the ridership has been waiting for true change that works well for too long. Since Ron Garrison is no longer in command, I am hopeful that a competent person can give our community a service that will serve us well, but as with most things related to MATAplus, the waiting game continues. 

How long have you been playing the waiting game? Would you like to demand change, share your story. Tell us here at MCIL your MATAplus stories.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was written on February 6, the Monday following the Super Bowl. Timothy Redd made a complaint that day. Now, three weeks later (Feb. 21), Timothy has not had any response from MATA about his complaint.