Now that we’ve all had a chance to vent about it, I chatted with Metro’s Linda Thielke about this week’s surprise cutbacks in service.
Our speculation about causes was basically correct. As a cost-cutting measure in 2009, Metro was going to cut back during the last week of the year, when ridership is historically pretty low.
With the beating the buses took last week, though, it was clear they were going to need to pause at some point soon. Given that this is one of the lower-ridership weeks of the year, they decided to bring the change forward to 2008, despite the short notice.
Frankly, I would have made the same decision. Unfortunately, the announcement was largely lost in the hoopla about the snowstorm. Although I think they could have done a better job giving it prominent play on the Metro website, it turns out the changes were announced as early as Dec. 23. Part of the problem, of course, is that a lot people gave up on riding the bus last week and so didn’t have the opportunity to see the alerts.
A timeline of the news releases that Ms. Thielke made is below the jump. Part of the blame, as always, falls on our local media, who mostly chose sensationalism about the storm over information readers and viewers could have actually used. But I still wish Metro had thought to pass it on to lesser outlets like The Stranger and STB, who reach fewer people but do a good job of covering transit information for people truly dependent on the bus.
As for me, I wish I’d taken the time to poke around the Metro site last week, while snowed in. My apologies to the readership.
–News release went out Wednesday, Dec. 23 and was also posted on county home page;
–Coach announcements made Dec. 26, 27 & 28;
–Rider Alerts posted Dec. 26 at the bus stops most impacted (couldn’t get to all 9,000 stops in one day);
–Updated information on Metro Online starting Dec. 26 (had to wait to see if we would be past the snow routing by Dec. 29);
–Another news release and phone calls to dailies and broadcast outlets on Dec. 28.