Wednesday, August 24, 2005

We'll Get Back to You in 24 Hours About Our Hybrid Buses

So MATA plans to add hybrid buses to its fleet to save money on fuel and maintenance costs? Good move, Mr. Hudson. Now that you've taken the bold and progressive move of purchasing more environmentally-friendly buses, could we go back to the basics and apply the same common sense thinking?

Motorists across the country are now looking for alternatives to gaz-guzzling cars, and many are turning to public transportation. But if anyone has ever tried to navigate the maze that is Memphis' bus routes, it's likely that the experiment ended in frustration and a trip to the gas station to fill up your car.

First off, if you call MATA you are asked to enter the bus route you would like to ride. As a neophyte bus rider, you probably have no idea. If you decide to take the more technologically-savvy route and go the the internet, you can enter where you are and where you want to go to find your route. But here's what you get:

"Just fill out the following form, and one of our Customer Service Representatives will get back to you within 24 hours with a recommendation of bus routes to take."

This is not made up.

This Smart City Consulting staffer is spending a lot of time in Washington, D.C. these days sans car. But it's not a problem. WMATAs web site has a trip planner that instantly gives you multiple options for ways to get where you are to where you are going either on bus or rail (an entirely different blog for a different day). There are links to PDF files with maps of the bus routes, the time it takes and directions from where you step off the bus to the front door of your final destination. This is not made up either.

The routes make sense (they use a groundbreaking grid system!). They (mostly) run on time. People use them.

Could we learn something here?

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