July 21, 2014 2 Comments
In answer to their ongoing driver shortage and attendant bus run cancellations, Golden Gate Transit (GGT) declared it would cancel 4 runs in the morning and 4 in the evening until the shortage is resolved. It’s welcome, but not enough to restore faith in the agency.
The 4 cancelled southbound runs are:
- Route 4 – 7:16 am
- Route 24 – 6:46 am
- Route 24 – 7:17 am
- Route 54 – 6:40 am
The 4 cancelled northbound runs are:
- Route 4 – 4:56 pm
- Route 24 – 4:25 pm
- Route 24 – 4:57 pm
- Route 54 – 4:43 pm
GGT took this step because it had “higher than expected attrition rates” and so had to frequently cancel commuter trips throughout Marin. By permanently cancelling runs, it hopes they won’t have to cancel them without prior notification.
There were substantial problems with how GGT handled the problem. Email and text notifications were only available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and weren’t published through GGT’s Twitter feed or the general route alerts. This was a dramatic disservice to riders. Indeed, the first word this problem was coming was from bus drivers giving voice announcements to full buses, and the story was broken online only by Daniel Skarka in a Google+ post. The on-bus announcements should have been supplemented by announcements on every social media and outreach channel GGT has.
More damning is the fact that GGT had knowledge of this problem before the quarterly schedule adjustment: Skarka’s 54 driver announced it well before the release of the new schedule. Had GGT structured the new schedule to fit expected staffing levels, they would never have had to cancel runs in the first place. The wounds to GGT’s reputation as a reliable service, which will likely last for a very long time, were entirely self-inflicted.
We’ve seen some good signs lately with GGT’s ferry system – new docks at Sausalito, more consistent and numerous ferry runs at Larkspur – but the bus system continues to struggle with mismanagement. Even the inauguration of all-day Route 27 service doesn’t work well, with arrival times at San Rafael nearly identical to Route 70.
GGT is moving towards becoming a more thoughtful and creative organization, but this #missingbus scandal shows it’s still an agency struggling with its own ineptitude.
UPDATE: I neglected to mention: the cancelled runs will stop beginning July 29.