Friday, February 29, 2008

...Where did I put that Swiper?

I can be absent-minded. I mis-place things from time to time. Sometimes, I just plain lose them. It's not fun, I'm not proud, but it is what it is.

I've been purchasing the CDTA Swiper since June 2007. During that time, I dropped it once when I was walking into my office, but was very fortunate that a colleague found the little bus pass before I even realized it was missing! Then, there was the very cold evening of February 27, 2008. I boarded a bus using my Swiper, but the next morning when I was getting ready for my day, the Swiper was missing. Not sure what happened to it, but I know why it happened. I didn't follow my own rule, my routine. The routine is this: get on the bus, find a location to sit or stand, put the card away in the special spot in my bag where I can always find it. The critical error happened here: I was on the phone when I get on the bus, and I STAYED on the phone, distracted -- didn't follow my own procedure, the card never got put away.

Now, if I were in my city of origin, NYC and my MetroCard had disappeared, I could be reimbursed! Here in CDTA-land, I cannot find any information on the CDTA website about such a consumer-friendly option when a card is lost or stolen.

I try to look at the bright side of things -- so here's the positive aspect of my lost card: at least it happened at the end of the day on the 27th of February - the shortest month of the year. I only wound up paying an additional $6 to buy two $3 day cards. True, if it weren't a leap year, I would have only had to pay an additional $3, but I'm trying to see the bright side right now.

Actually, this takes me to something else I just don't understand about CDTA. I don't get why monthly passes (aka Swipers) -- both the 7-day pass and the 5-day pass - are valid from the 1st day of the month through the last day/ week day (if you have a 5-day pass) of the month, rather than the very consumer-friendly option of "good for 30 days from the date of first use"... just like the METROCARD!

Imagine deciding that you're ready to start riding the bus regularly, you want to buy a 7-day Swiper, so you can take 2 buses each way to and from work Monday through Friday, and it happens to be the 10th of January when you make this decision. Would you get your money's worth if you purchased a Swiper and started using it that day? I don't want to do the math -- maybe you do. I think our time would be better spent letting CDTA know that they're on the right track, yet there's so much more they could be doing to provide quality service to the residents and visitors of our region. A public meeting is coming up in April to be held at one of my favorite places; let's make it there.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Transit Updates

One day last week, I looked down at my morning newspaper and saw Roger looking up at me. Roger has added the TU to his running list of blogs - cool.

When I noticed Roger's blog blurb in the paper, I was happy to see that he was posting about a meeting hosted by Lucille Brewer who wrote this letter last summer about the bus to the mall. I was unable to attend the meeting, but I do want to become a member of Citizens for Bus Transportation.

Maybe even more people will join the group, with the 6% increase in CDTA use over the past year, there must be more citizens who are indeed for bus transportation.

Gotta say, this was quite a week for CDTA news in the TU, they even pointed out my favorite new tool on the CDTA website. Yes, it's a bit bug-gy, but this software-tester-in-a-previous-life finds workarounds and overall, thinks the Trip Planner is pretty nifty. I've actually only used it for practical purposes twice thus far. The first time, I needed to figure out how to get to Siena college from downtown Albany one recent Friday evening, it worked like a charm. It's a good thing I had a ride home though, because the last bus back to Albany from Siena leaves Latham Circle Mall at 6:52, so it must get to Siena shortly thereafter, this was not going to work for me since I'd need to return back closer to 11:00 p.m. Three words: More Service Needed.

The second time I used Trip Planner, I encountered a couple of odd things. I needed to get to an address on Washington Avenue Extension which requires taking a little Shuttle bus. The Trip Planner had me get on the shuttle, but (i) it referred to the shuttle by a number (27[v]) and NO PLACE does CDTA refer to the ShuttleBug by a number, so this is ummm... kind of confusing, and (ii) a great feature of the ShuttleBug service is that it makes stops at office buildings all along its route -- even if the buildings are not scheduled ROUTE STOPS, however it doesn't appear that the Trip Planner was given that information because it had me get out at Wal-Mart (eek) and walk across four lanes of traffic (or is it 6?) to the other side of Washington Avenue Extension, when really all I needed to do was tell the bus driver where I was headed -- it's cool like that.

HANDS DOWN, the best CDTA announcement of the past month was this one. Thank you Philip Morris and Proctors for hopefully being just the FIRST local arts organization to partner with our Transit Authority.