Get Ready for More StarMetro Changes by TaMaryn Waters Democrat Staff Writer Considerable changes to StarMetro's bus system are in the works and will start Jan. 21. Feedback from riders prompted the changes, which are the most drastic since the new system launched in July. While some riders said they have had pleasant experiences with the upgraded system, others have stopped riding because of late buses and long transfer delays. Changes will take place within StarMetro's existing $16-million budget. They are slated for 11 week-day routes, six Saturday routes and four night routes. Heather Teter, StarMetro's marketing specialist, said buses will come more often and other routes will have slight time tweaks once proposed changes are in effect. In addition, five more areas of service - such as near Innovation Park, the Macon Community and Capital Circle Southwest and Crawfordville Highway - will be added. During various public forums, some bus riders said transferring between routes can be difficult, especially if buses are arriving late at a stop. "System-wide, we saw the need to make it easier to help customers make their transfers by tweaking the system," Teter said. The new system took away the need to transfer exclusively at the downtown C.K. Steele Plaza and created more transfer points throughout the city. Since the system's debut, StarMetro has been flooded with praise and criticism by riders and city commissioners, some of whom have stressed improvements take place quickly. John Plescow, who is visually impaired, said he rode the bus in the old system four times a week. He didn't have problems. But with the new system, Plescow said he's had to wait more than 30 minutes to transfer buses. He abandoned the new system and began using the Dial-A-Ride service instead. He said the new system continues to have too many problems. "If you were waiting 10 or 15 minutes, that would be fine. If you are waiting 30 minutes, that's ridiculous," Plescow said, adding "it's unacceptable" for the system to still have major problems after six months and 18 months of preparation before that. He's not convinced the newest changes will make a difference. He hopes they will. If not, Plescow will stick to using Dial-A-Ride and he knows several riders who are planning to buy cars soon if the system doesn't improve. However, customers such as Tom Clark have no complaints. Clark walks to work at the Koger Center on Apalachee Parkway and takes the bus home to his neighborhood behind Miracle Plaza off Thomasville Road. He didn't have to transfer with the old system, but he does now. Clark doesn't mind the transfers because it gives him a chance to run errands while waiting. Even though he understands some riders are frustrated, Clark said the proposed changes are an attempt by StarMetro to address looming issues. "It seems to me there's an effort to be responsive to meet the needs of people better," Clark said. "They are just not going to meet everyone's needs perfectly." Comments: squareman <http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=PluckPersona& U=f2dc3d97a4854af8ba36ea5ceaa44396&plckUserId=f2dc3d97a4854af8ba36ea5cea a44396> 7:26 AM on December 20, 2011 "Since the system's debut, StarMetro has been flooded with praise and criticism by riders and city commissioners" Wow! What a wildly inaccurate statement! The city, and city commissioners, received hundreds upon hundreds of complaints about the new system after implementation. It would be fair to say that not all of the statements about the new system were negative but to say the city was "flooded" with praise is just another example of how the Democrat, or at least this reporter, is not being objective. Please stop acting as a PR machine for StarMetro and start reporting the story in an unbiased manner.