Only a day or so after writing a story about life on the bus
, I found myself standing at my stop for many long minutes past the time the #2 should have picked me up. Five minutes late turned into 10 turned into 20, then 30. Dark fell. A bus friend called me from his stop a few blocks away. "I got through to TARC on the phone. The #2 is stuck in traffic at Crittenden because of the lines for the flu shot at the stadium." I decided I'd had enough of standing in front of Dr. Bizer's Value vision and struck out for the downtown library 20 minutes walk away to wait for my husband to come from across town and meet me.
As it ends up, the bus showed a few minutes later, and I managed to catch it thanks to a call from the same friend -- albeit after being forced to trot in a most undignified fashion as the bus rolled along, refusing to come to a complete stop for me away from an authorized stop.
"It's too bad TARC doesn't have a way to let anyone other than those who brave and survive their phone lines know when a bus is way behind schedule," I thought on my late ride home. And then I remembered. This isn't 1990. I had Twittered away my wait -- why can't TARC do the same?
We'll not address now the fact that their web site is not mobile friendly, therefore useless to anyone with a smartphone scrambling to figure out which bus to grab at which stop. That would take time and money, and though I may be biased towards web communication, I don't have high hopes that it will change in the near future.
But seriously tweeps. Twitter is free, requires no special technical skills, and takes moments. Passengers needn't even have an iPhone or other shiny toy -- Twitter lets you choose who to get text alerts from, so anyone with a cell phone that can receive texts can choose to get TARC updates.
Take a look at this tweet from @PhoenixMetroBus
Collision at 1st Ave/ Jefferson betwn a light rail and truck. No injuries, minor damage to train. 10 – 15 minute delay in EB service.
9:41 AM Nov 13th from web
Were I to follow @TARCbus my 40 long, dreary minutes at the bus watching it get dark could have looked like this:
Arrive at bus stop.
Pluck BlackBerry from bag.
Ah! Post from @TARCbus reads: #2 northbound sched for 5th&Mkt at 5:15 caught in flu clinic traffic, will be 30-40 minutes late.
Wow! I'd better hop across the street and around the corner to pick up the 18.
25 minutes later: home making dinner.
What did this cost TARC? 30 seconds of time.
Obviously I know that a tweeting TARC won't reach all their passengers. But how many do they reach with their current system of no notification whatsoever unless you dial repeatedly and maybe get through? (In months of calling daily to try to report a missing sign I got a human once.)I know I'm not the only Louisville Twitterer on the bus.
Dare I hope this can happen? Come on, get on board TARC, let's see you @Twitter.