My Turn: Capital Transit needs more than lip service

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What is wrong with Capital Transit? It is public transportation, you know. The service has regressed to a joke. The public doesn't complain because it gets no response from the city or Capital Transit. Not even a feeble attempt.

It's not that there are no complaints or problems. The riders know it falls on deaf ears. The city of Juneau and the bus company see this as "We are doing a great job" because no one is complaining. This is far from the truth. I ride the bus daily. I hear a litany of complaints from other riders. Just ask anyone waiting at a bus stop how inadequate the service really is, and be prepared to get a very long list.

Just today, a bus almost ran me over as I was getting off it in front of Gastineau Elementary School. The sidewalk was a sheet of ice and I slid toward the bus as the driver raced to get back into traffic. He was totally unconcerned about safety. If I had not had a sack of groceries in my left hand to block me from the bus, I would have slid right under his rear wheel. I shudder to think about what kind of damage that would have caused to me.

No one - the city, the bus company or the bus drivers - seems to care if the bus stops are safe. Just look at how they are not lit at night or how they are plowed in with snow. This situation should never exist in the first place. Will the solution to this problem be to eliminate the service, like they do for Cordova Street or Lemon Creek when it gets a little slick?

I immediately called Capital Transit and the person who answered the phone frustrated me. You could even hear him snicker. His attitude was, "Here is another crackpot." He said, "We all make mistakes," "I'll talk to the bus driver," and "I'll call you back." He didn't ask for my phone number, I had to ask him to take it. Four hours later, I still have not heard from him, and I probably never will.

I don't care what color the bus is or what the name is; where the safety is concerned, more needs to be done than merely saying, "I'll talk to the bus driver." There should be immediate action, not tomorrow, not next week, but today, right now! Every bus stop should be inspected for safety and remedied immediately. The snow and ice problem is going to exist for several more months. This is public transportation, you know.

There were public meetings several months ago to discuss the problems and hear the suggestions of the public. One of the last questions asked was, "This is only lip service, isn't it?" Of course an official said it wasn't, but I knew from years of experience that it was.

How much money has been wasted on studies that could have been used to improve the services?

It's very convenient the way the city and the bus company are organized. The city can say it is not its responsibility, and that the bus company needs to address this issue. The bus company says it is not its responsibility and that the city needs to address that. Neither is held responsible to follow the mandates, and the riders are the ones that suffer.

How convenient to be able to do that.

And for the last 10 years, we have heard how they are going to improve the routes and schedule. Ha, more lip service!

• Stan Marston is a Douglas resident.

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