Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TSPLOST referendum

Although I favor mass transit - and will likely vote in favor of TSPLOST on July 31st - the big hesitation is giving the incompetent MARTA management more money.

  • They operate larger buses instead of smaller buses because the union drivers are paid more money to drive the larger buses
  • They threaten to shut down profitable and highly used routes such as the Braves shuttle to "reduce" costs
  • They install flat screen tv's on the trains - only to run 2 week old weather reports on them
  • They install GPS on buses - but then don't use the technology effectively. (e.g. such as display bus real time location to the web)
  • Buses often run off schedule - sometimes running three buses one behind the other  - on the same route!  They have no simple recovery plan in place.  (i.e. turn one of the empty buses around!)
  • Trains (finite distance) consistently don't operate on schedule
  • Trains run with the WRONG sign posted on display.  (e.g. northbound train with AIRPORT sign displayed - confusing out of town passengers)
  • Trains don't run frequently and are short of capacity during predictable ridership increases (e.g. after sporting events conclude) -  thereby giving a bad experience to new customers
  • Trains stop just short of the station platform for several minutes as you watch your bus pull away from the station below.  (with no train ahead of them at the station) 
  • escalator maintenance constantly botched

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MARTA doesn't use MARTA

I attended another MARTA meeting last week in Chamblee.

None of the mgt. would answer any specific questions pertaining to costs. They were proposing elimination of bus routes in a seemingly ad-hoc manner with no supporting data. I personally believe that they are intentionally trying to maximize the inconvenience of their riders by threatening to eliminate popular (and profitable) routes (e.g. Braves Shuttle) in order to increase public outrage and hopefully create pressure for politicians to increase their budget.

The kicker - after the meeting adjourned I watched as all of the MARTA managers got into their cars and drove back to their Lindbergh Center train station headquarters. The meeting was held in Chamblee directly across the street from the train station - only 3 stops away from their Lindbergh Center train station headquarters.


MARTA needs to eat its own dog food!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

MARTA Escalators Remain "Temporarily" Out of Service

Since late January, the escalators have been out of service in most MARTA stations.

Apparently, a contractor didn't perform the work up to code.

How did MARTA choose this contractor? And why has the public been so inconvenienced for a service that we've already paid?

Thoughts on Marta Forum -- February 20, 2010

I attended another Marta forum on February 20th at Lindbergh.

Once again, it proved to be time not well spent. MARTA simply read proposed bus route changes while people in the audience protested any changes to their particular route(s) of interest.

Perhaps most discouraging is the resistance of MARTA mgt. to LISTEN to their customers.

Some actual quotes made at that meeting by MARTA mgt. include:
"MARTA doesn't see things the same way that customers do."

"MARTA is considering rate increases for special events. Because we have higher operating costs on those days to accommodate the crowds." (e.g. Braves games)

Their rationale for increasing rates for special events such as the Braves games is that they have to run more buses. Now let's think about that for a moment. All of the buses are PACKED going to the Braves games. So how does that not already make for a profitable day at the park for MARTA?

MARTA management - or should I say mismanagement - is driving MARTA into the ground.
As FAKEMARTA on twitter might say, "But don't our new flat screen TV's look nice?"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Use GPS Effectively - another plea

MARTA needs to enter modern times. Some bus routes are chronically off schedule. And services are abysmal in general. So at the very least, display the actual bus location to the web.

(below is a repeat post from October)
Everybody knows that reducing traffic congestion in Atlanta would be aided by using mass transit. Here in Atlanta, our transit system is known as MARTA. With just a few simple measures, more people would opt to use the transit system more frequently. One such measure is better use of existing technology.

Why doesn't MARTA display actual bus locations to the web? (Using the GPS that's already on most buses more effectively)

Most buses already have GPS installed on them. So why not put the technology to work by displaying the actual location of the buses to the web in real time?

Marta has already invested in this GPS system. Yet it seems that drivers can disable it at will. (I may be wrong about this - but it seems to be the case)

Displaying actual bus locations to the web would:
  • greatly improve the marta rider experience
  • significantly reduce time spent unnecessarily waiting for a bus that is running late
  • improve safety for riders
  • possibly increase ridership
Please MARTA - take the final step and display bus locations on the web.

Marta Escalators Remain Out of Service

Well - it's been a MONTH. And many Marta escalators remain out of service.

This has been a MAJOR inconvenience for people with a physical disability or limitation.

Marta's slow response is totally unacceptable. I don't believe Marta's excuse that they simply need more money. Rather, the management at Marta is a disgrace. It's a toxic combination of mismanagement combined with a union that places its own interest above the good of the public.

The public deserves better.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thoughts on MARTA Forum @ Lindbergh February 6, 2010

Thank you MARTA for hosting a forum to meet with us, your riders.

Many attended the brainstorming session today at Lindbergh. I'd estimate there were approximately 100 attendees during the break out session. More were there earlier I think.

The forum was touted as a brainstorming session. But little time was devoted to actual brainstorming. Rather, it became a pitch for money while offering just a glimpse of their budget expenditures. Only a brief customer brainstorming session actually took place. Afterward, MARTA eliminated the opportunity for the teams to share their ideas because they were behind schedule since some presenters spoke too long. And they almost forgot to collect the material that each team created.

MARTA's message is that a reduction in service in inevitable given the current economic crisis. But they offered little explanation of how things became this bad or what measures they have taken.

But this was a good first step at listening to the customers. Hopefully these sessions will continue and improve.

Some suggestions:
  • Allocate more time for customer feedback and interaction. Devote much more time to brainstorming and Q&A. Reduce the time for MARTA presenters or make presentations more effective. MARTA could better leverage the resources of people in attendance and could capitalize on the opportunity to have customers participate.
  • Slides were difficult to read. Sliders were text heavy, with small font and poor use of color. And I sat in the 1st row! Better use of graphics would have been helpful.
  • MARTA presenters took precedence over customer feedback. Once the MARTA presenters ran behind schedule, the time for customer Q&A and brainstorming was slashed as a result. Especially given that we only had a small break out session for customers to submit their ideas.
  • Engage customer interaction. MARTA missed the opportunity for the customer teams to share their ideas and participate. And they almost forgot to collect the material that each team created.
  • MARTA needs to make better case to justify a budget increase. What measures have been taken? We merely saw tables of numbers with budget and expense. But there was insufficient details on the expenses.
  • Brainstorming sessions could be more focused. Our table didn't have a facilitator and we spent valuable time determining our goal. Perhaps we could have multiple workshops where we brainstorm on ways to solve the budget crisis. Then another focusing on ways to improve services?