[tabi] Re: FW: Fw: public transportation letter to city commissioners

  • From: "Easy Talk" <Easytalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2014 21:59:31 -0400

You hit the nail on the head with the smaller transfer points.  The only way 
they can make the current system work is to revaluate the unsafe stops and put 
a lot more buses on the road so when there is a screw up people don't have to 
wait another 40 minutes in the heat and rain to catch the next bus which is 
what was originally promised with the 20 minute head ways.  Personally I like 
the smaller sub station approach.  Many years back Larry Carter and I had many 
conversations about that.  Once when I was in Chicago, I used there system 
which is like what Tallahassee is trying to do but there were busses about 
every 7 to 10 minutes.

Based on the way Tallahassee is laid out, I would run a buss around Capital 
circle and work inward like spokes on a wheel moving north south and east west. 
You would have to have a few odd balls to cover roads like Thomasville but the 
concept wouldn't be so confusing.

Robert
 


Robert
  
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Chip and Allie Orange 
  To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 9:16 PM
  Subject: [tabi] Re: FW: Fw: public transportation letter to city commissioners


  Robert,

   

  Ok; but for those issues, talk to the city commissioners as you did, or Ivan; 
Brian can't redesign the current system.

   

  In my opinion, the current system was done entirely for the self-improvement 
for Ron Garrison, who ducked out before any of the promises he made had to be 
truly full-filled.  The old system did have its problems too don't forget. 

   

  There's probably a compromise system possible, with several smaller transfer 
points scattered around the city, but it would probably require the city to 
spend more money to make it workable.  They also need to spend more money on 
Dial-a-Ride.  Instead, they're spending  (what is it?) 2 million dollars on a 
brew pub?  And the party bus?

   

  These are issues for all the disabled people in the county to get together 
on, as well as any other organizations which will represent those who can't 
afford to drive.  It's going to take everyone working together to get the city 
to spend more money right now.  Until then, I am thankful you and Sila and 
Brian have made things better.

   

  Chip

   

   

   

   

  From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf 
Of Easy Talk
  Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 9:05 PM
  To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  Subject: [tabi] Re: FW: Fw: public transportation letter to city commissioners

   

  You are correct, they can put there info on anything they choose but maps are 
graphical so unless bing has taken the time to label there maps as Google has 
there are of no use to a blind person and that is the point I am trying to get 
Brian to understand.  The other thing that bothers me is that Brian is focused 
on the disability thing now which isn't a bad thing but the whole bus system is 
offal and the level of service sucks.  You can tell the drivers are dismayed 
with the system because most of the riders are bitching  when they miss a bus 
for what ever reason and missing connections. The system is total confusion. 
There are a lot of stops that are unsafe and during the stop selection process 
there was no consideration given to  the conditions people have to deal with 
such as hills and ditches along roads.  No way a person in a wheel chair could 
navigate some of the drop off points. Eventually some one is going to get hurt 
by falling in a ditch or hit by a car and when they sue the city, maybe that 
will get there attention. Have you ever tried to use a cane on a hill in grass 
along side a ditch?

   

   

  Robert

   

   

  About the time someone gets use to a route, they change it and in most cases 
that change is another reduction in the level of service.  When this happens, 
it is amazing how Star metro touts it as increasing rider ship for that route.  
For example on Face Book, They bragged about how many riders were now riding 
the Southwood route.  When you turn two routes in to one, of course the number 
is going to increase.

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

    ----- Original Message ----- 

    From: Chip and Allie Orange 

    To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 

    Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 8:28 PM

    Subject: [tabi] Re: FW: Fw: public transportation letter to city 
commissioners

     

    Robert,

     

    As long as they do both, it doesn't matter if they put this up on Bing as 
well as Google Transit.  The world is using Google Transit, so Bing is 
essentially offering free computer consulting to try and get people to use 
their planner.  It does make it easier to get them up and going first, and he's 
made a commitment for Google.

     

    I do disagree with Brian when he says "The issue here is not  the trip 
planning, but improper communication."  You wouldn't have had to deal with 
communication issues if trip planning had been available (and kept up to date). 
 I think it's much easier to have a person responsible for updating the trip 
planning database, than trying to train all the people who are at the call 
center about every temporary change, as the facts of your case seem to support. 
Ideally, they'll improve both.  It's a shame that they didn't even have their 
trip planner evaluated for accessibility; it's the law, but it seems we have to 
remind every single web site owner, case by case, about it.  

     

    The upshot though is that we've got definite promises to fix things, and 
definite time lines to have them done within; you accomplished quite a lot, 
with your one misadventure.

     

    Chip

     

     

     

    From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On 
Behalf Of Easy Talk
    Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 7:57 PM
    To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Subject: [tabi] Re: FW: Fw: public transportation letter to city 
commissioners

     

    That's grate, I never heard of bing maps and I'll bet they aren't 
accessible.  The hell with making something accessible just so it is easy for 
Star Metro.

    Now you know why I wrote to the city Commissioners.

     

    Pissed.

    Robert

     

    Robert

     

      ----- Original Message ----- 

      From: Chip and Allie Orange 

      To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 

      Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 6:13 PM

      Subject: [tabi] FW: Fw: public transportation letter to city commissioners

       

       

       

      From: Waterman, Brian [mailto:Brian.Waterman@xxxxxxxxxx] 
      Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2014 9:25 PM
      To: Chip and Allie Orange
      Subject: Re: [tabi] Fw: public transportation letter to city commissioners

       

      I forgot to add, our trip planner should be up on Bing Maps by the end of 
the month. They were much easier to work with and debugged our GTFS feed for us.

      Sent from my iPad


      On Apr 13, 2014, at 9:04 PM, "Waterman, Brian" 
<Brian.Waterman@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

        Chip,

         

        I am also upset this happened to Robert yesterday. I have already 
forwarded the details of his trip to Ivan Maldonado and Operations to address 
this. There was a detour in effect for this route. We did provide notices at 
every affected bus stop, located temporary stops, and provided information to 
the call center on the change. Apparently, this information did was not 
conveyed to Robert. We will fix this and not let it happen again.

        The issue here is not  the trip planning, but improper communication. 
Again, we will address this. 

         

        As for Google Transit, you are right this is a long promised but not 
delivered product. We do have trip planner on our website and it runs a Google 
Maps in the background. It has the same functionality as GoogleTransit where 
you can type in your address, your destination, and time you want to arrive. It 
does provide you a trip itinerary. If there is any problem with the trip 
planner, we are able to quickly diagnose and fix the problem. Our trip planner 
is tied directly to our Trapeze Scheduling System. Whenever our scheduling 
system is update with new routes and time points, the trip planner is updated 
automatically. We also have the real time bus location on our website. 
Currently, this is still in a testing stage since is it is only viewable on the 
desktop and there are issues with some of the buses not broadcasting 100% of 
the time, but it is there. We should be rolling out some mobile apps this 
summer.

         

        Whereas with GoogleTransit, we have to export the General Transit Feed 
Specification (GTFS), run it through the debugger, fix any errors, and then 
send it to Google.  Once they approve it, its then added to their system. Once 
it is approved, we have to set up a website/portal that we download the GTFS 
feed to on a regular basis. Google then grabs the feed to keep their system 
updated. If an error is detected, we would have to re-export the GTFS data, 
debug, and resend it. The GoogleTransit is only as accurate as the last feed. 

         

        One of the benefits of GoogleTransit is they standardized transit file 
specifications. This means the GTFS  we export is able to be used on numerous 
other programs and can lead to customization/local apps by local entrepreneurs. 
For this reason, it is on my to do list to make this happen and provide the 
data for download on our website. This includes the real-time feed as well so 
anyone can create a local transit app. I will make this commitment to you: I 
will send the GTFS feed to GoogleTransit by mid-June if not sooner. I am asking 
for 2 months because I am not quite up to full staff and Charles is taking a 
much needed vacation in May. 

         

        I am also aware the .pdfs of the routes on the website are not read 
easily by our customers. We are quickly working to resolve this issue and 
should have it corrected by the end of the month. We also placed an order to 
Target copy for print ride guides for the Plaza. They should be delivered next 
week. We are also finalizing the turn-by-turns to have braille ride guides sent 
to the printer next week. 

         

        I hope this update answers many of your questions. Please continue to 
talk to me about your concerns. Recently, I had a chance to speak to transit 
managers from Texas on improving access for the visually impaired. I learned a 
lot from them and want to incorporate some of their ideas. Grant funding does 
exist for projects that improve access for the visually impaired. 

         

        Brian


------------------------------------------------------------------------

        From: Chip and Allie Orange [acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx]
        Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2014 8:15 PM
        To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
        Cc: Waterman, Brian
        Subject: RE: [tabi] Fw: public transportation letter to city 
commissioners

        Robert,

         

        I'm sorry this happened to you guys; it seems like you try to do 
everything by following all the right procedures, and still, this happens .

         

        I just want to point out to you and Brian Waterman that I have 
repeatedly urged StarMetro to put their route data on Google Transit,  This is 
the absolutely industry accepted way for planning routes on public transit.  If 
StarMetro had done this, the route planning information  would have been easily 
accessible, and you would have been told exactly when and where to catch the 
bus you needed for your route.  You would not have had to try and rely on 
people who either aren't able to do their jobs, or perhaps, this isn't their 
job (I don't know), but missing a bus because of being uncertain where and when 
to catch it shouldn't happen.

         

        If a route changes, StarMetro could and should easily update this info 
on Google Transit, and it would be made available to you instantly.

         

        StarMetro completely deserves to be blasted for what you guys went 
through; and I cannot understand why Brian Waterman keeps telling me that "soon 
." the data will be on Google Transit, and it never has.

         

        Brian, I'm sorry but I am now at a point where I feel I can't bring my 
problems and requests to you any longer, like Robert, I'm going to begin to 
take them to the city commission.

         

        Chip Orange

         

         

        From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On 
Behalf Of Easy Talk
        Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2014 1:30 PM
        To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
        Subject: [tabi] Fw: public transportation letter to city commissioners

         

         

        ----- Original Message ----- 

        From: Easy Talk 

        To: commissioners@xxxxxxxxxx 

        Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2014 1:28 PM

        Subject: public transportation

         

        Dear City Commissioners,

        First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to listen to my 
concerns.  I am a visually impaired citizen and tax payer of Tallahassee.  I 
have been a long-time advocate for the visually impaired and have appeared 
before the city commission in the past.

        I am writing today in hopes of bringing to your attention the injustice 
of the current status of public transportation in Tallahassee pertaining to 
both the StarMetro bus system and Dial-A-Ride (DAR).  Currently, there is no 
dependable public transportation for disabled and non disabled citizens of our 
community.

        As you are aware, decentralization of the bus system has been in effect 
for about two years now. Instead of getting better, it continues to go downhill 
and the level of service is decreasing.

        I would like to relate my experience this past Saturday, April 12, when 
I decided to use the bus to take a trip to Tomato Land on Thomasville road.  I 
live at 2201 Limerick Drive.  My wife called StarMetro to determine what time 
we could catch the Dogwood (D) route on Market Street which would be a straight 
shot to our destination, 3.1 miles away.  We were told the bus should arrive 
about 9:25 AM.  We left our home at 8:45 and arrived at the bus stop at 9:12.  
The aforementioned bus stop is on the northeast corner of Market Street and 
McClay Blvd.  About 9:27 a bus came down McClay and made a right onto Market, 
leaving us standing on the opposite corner of Market Street, right at the bus 
sign marked Route D.  My wife again called StarMetro and talked to the 
dispatcher who was very nice and patient. After about 10 minutes on the phone, 
with him not being able to make heads or tails of the schedule and figure out 
where we were, we thanked him and ended the call.

        We next decided to walk to the bus shelter on Village Square, near 
Fresh Market.  After waiting for about 10 minutes, around 10:10 my wife was 
watching for the bus using the camera on her cell phone and saw the bus turn 
off Thomasville road onto Village Square.  As we waited for the bus to come to 
the shelter, we were quite dismayed, along with two other people waiting for 
the bus to see it take a left turn at the Financial Center, just east of the 
bus shelter.  The two other people started yelling at the bus driver and the 
lady got on her phone to StarMetro.  Fortunately, the other people were able to 
get the drivers attention and he made a loop and came back to the shelter and 
picked us up.  If the other two people had not been there, most likely, my wife 
and I would have missed that bus too.  

        When I got on the bus, I ask the driver why he didn't stop at the 
shelter. He said they didn't stop there anymore because of construction, it was 
too bumpy.  My little 3 mile trip took me 3 hours to complete.  I challenge all 
of you to take a few trips on the bus and then maybe you will do something to 
correct the poor quality of service you expect the citizens of Tallahassee to 
accept.  Would you accept this level of service from the Police or Fire 
departments?  

        This morning, I spent about an hour on the StarMetro website and didn't 
find anything that would alert me to a change in the D Route due to 
construction.  In fact, the web site is pretty useless, seeming to focus more 
on social networking, such as FaceBook, Utube and Twitter.  You might want to 
take the time to read some of the comments posted there, I didn't see a single 
comment that praised StarMetro except how StarMetro bragged that they provide 
4.5 million trips a year and travel over 7 thousand miles a day.  When you take 
that into consideration based on the current budget, it shows just how 
important the city thinks public transportation is to its taxpayers.  It is 
apparent that the web site has about as much priority as the bus system its 
self.  Since the route changes, the site hasn't been updated and has 
information that has expired, for example, the Veterans Take Down was a week 
ago.  There are no current print Ride Guides and the time table appears 
sideways on your computer screen.  Once, while riding with a sighted driver 
friend, we stopped at the down town terminal to get a print copy of the Ride 
Guide. We were told they hadn't gotten new ones yet and they didn't know when 
they would have them.

        I also noticed on FaceBook that StarMetro was proud to brag that they 
put Braille signage on each bus stop for their visually impaired patrons. There 
wasn't one at the stop at Market Street. So far, I haven't seen a single one in 
my travels.  I think Braille signage is a wonderful gesture. However, it 
doesn't matter what you put on the bus stop pole if I can't find the sign to 
start with.  I called StarMetro when the Braille Signage was in discussion and 
expressed to them that tactile markers on the sidewalk should come before 
Braille signage. So far, that hasn't happened either.  It is very apparent that 
the City doesn't understand or have staff that is experienced in the needs of 
the disabled or ADA requirements. In fact, the City discriminates against 
disabled people by requiring a valid driver's license for jobs that don't 
require you to drive as part of the job description. An example is a dispatcher 
for StarMetro. 

        As we traveled to our destination, not once did the bus driver announce 
a single bus stop.  I bring this to your attention because I have personally 
complained to StarMetro about bus drivers not calling out bus stops.  This is a 
federal requirement, but for some reason StarMetro doesn't see the need to 
comply.  The only way this will ever happen is to incorporate it into the 
training of new bus drivers and take appropriate action against drivers who 
refuse to announce stops.  Sometimes a driver will call out a few stops when 
they notice a blind person got on the bus. However, if they don't do it 
regularly, they forget to, even when a blind person is on the bus.

        On our return trip, the closest stop to the shelter on Village Square 
was the Financial Center which let us out on the south side of Village Square, 
heading toward Thomasville road.  At that location, there is no sidewalk and 
the grassy area is a hill. Thus, I was walking with my right leg much higher 
than my left, leaning toward the street and my guide dog.  The dog was very 
uncomfortable with this situation, and so was I.  This is dangerous, as cars on 
that street travel pretty fast and someone could stumble and fall.  My point 
here is that StarMetro staff don't consider the situations of individuals 
riding the bus and the danger they put them into.  

        It is unfortunate that the City and StarMetro has focused totally on 
college kids (The Rhythm Express) and has little regard for taxpayers who have 
no choice other than public transportation to meet their vital transportation 
needs.  Just look at the differences in transportation during the week as 
opposed to the level of service provided on weekends.  Most people work during 
the week and would like to use weekends to shop and conduct business that they 
can't do during the week.  I can't even go to a City Commission meeting to 
express my concerns because I can't get public transportation home afterward 
since service stops in my area at 7 PM. To get home, I would have to use a cab 
to the tune of approximately $20.00. Most disabled people don't have the 
highest of incomes. Additionally, there isn't any public transportation to the 
airport. Totally ridiculous since this is the capital of Florida.

        During the planning stage of Decentralization and the public hearings, 
Mr. Garison touted how the new system would have GPS and WI-FI on the busses so 
people could find out exactly where and when their bus would arrive.  We were 
also suppose to be able to text a number on our cell phones to get schedule 
information. None of this has happened after two years.  I, along with many 
others have called to suggest that StarMetro submit their bus information of 
times and stop locations to Google Transit, a database that is totally 
accessible to disabled people using either Apple or Android phones, a service 
used by most cities, to no avail.  When I called, I was told the amount of data 
input was too much work and that Google wouldn't return their call.  If the 
City of Miami, much larger than Tallahassee can do it, why can't Tallahassee.  
The only answer I can come up with is, StarMetro doesn't care.  How are we 
supposed to use a bus system when we can't find out accurate information for 
bus schedules and times?

        Now, let me move to the Dial-A-Ride issue.  Based on the experiences I 
have listed above, coupled with bad weather, poorly selected and unsafe bus 
stops and missed bus connections, over 100 disabled users of the bus system 
have moved over to DAR. Since the City hasn't increased the DAR budget to 
provide more vans and drivers to handle the added load, this service has 
decreased to an unacceptable level, resulting in late pickups and missed 
medical appointments.  Changes in bus routes have caused more people to use DAR 
on a daily bases to get to work which means one individual now uses Dial A ride 
for 10 trips each week as opposed to using the bus system. An example of this 
is the recent change to the Southwood Express.  My wife went to the City 
hearing on this matter and along with others, expressed her concerns to no 
avail.  It is apparent that the City and StarMetro is going to do what they 
want, regardless of public input. So, what is the point of public input?  Is it 
your intent to make public transportation so bad that no one will use it and It 
can then be said that no one utilizes the system so we don't need it? 

        It has come to the point, that if you, the City Commissioners can't, or 
aren't willing to address the public transportation problem as a serious issue, 
I have no choice other than to forward this letter to the Federal Transit 
authority and file a formal complaint with that agency.  I will also pursue the 
possibility of filing a civil rights violation complaint with the Department of 
Justice for disabled citizens of Tallahassee.  I am tired of being a prisoner 
in my home and feeling unsafe while trying to use public transportation in my 
community. I am tired of not having a level of service to conduct normal daily 
activities that is equal to what non-disabled citizens are afforded.

         

        Robert Miller

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