Followup to SF Muni bus complaint form post

As a followup to my post about public transportation complaint forms: I filed a couple of complaints to test the system. It is fairly cumbersome, so though I had resolved to report everything that was a problem, I haven’t done it. I did take a few photos of buses that I ride before I get on, and took some notes so that I have the bus numbers, but that is hard to keep up consistently. I am usually focusing on getting on the bus smoothly and I’ve had my son with me a lot so I have him to think about too. This is with riding the bus 2 to 6 times a day.

I feel a little worried about reporting on drivers who are rude or can’t operate the lift well. Those drivers will still be there every day and I will have to still see them. They don’t always have their numbers showing on their uniform sleeves. I am not sure what their reaction will be when they see me photographing the bus number.

I would estimate that about half the time I have a problem getting on the bus. Most of the time that is the driver not asking people to board or exit at the back of the bus and so there is a delay in putting down the lift. That isn’t a big deal to me unless the bus is crowded, and 20 people push on in front of me, which means I have to get past them in the aisle to get to the wheelchair seating area OR that the bus driver doesn’t want to let me on. Three times in the last week bus drivers have been reluctant to let me on, giving excuses about their shift being about to end in 10 minutes, or about the bus being too full (it wasn’t). I had to argue my way on, each time. The driver in both cases tried to convince me that another bus was “right behind them” but I could see on QuickMuni, an Android app, that the next buses were 20-30 minutes away. One time, my son and I were completely passed up, at 10pm on Mission by a #49 bus going outbound.

On the complaints I filed, I got back email responses as attachments in docx format. Here is one of them:

IMG_20120719_115542.jpg

July 19, 2012

Dear Liz Henry:

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback regarding Muni.

Our goal is to provide timely, convenient and safe service, and your input is very important. Your complaints have been forwarded to Cyndia Chambers, Potrero Division Superintendent for investigation and resolution. We will strive to resolve your concern in an expedient manner. 

If you have a follow-up question regarding your report, please contact us at 415.701.5640 and refer to Passenger Service Report # 413220, 413221.

If you would like to provide additional feedback regarding Muni services, we welcome you to provide comments seven days a week, 24 hours a day via www.sfmta.com or through the 311 Customer Service Center at 311 or 415.701.2311.

Sincerely,

Maria M. Williams
Manager, Muni Customer Services
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Passenger Service Report #: 413220, 413221
311 Service Request #: 1160424, 1160418

Then I got a paper copy of this letter snail mailed to me. Both letters are the same, but one is dated July 16 and the other July 19th. That seems like a lot of effort on their part to say nothing.
I don’t know what my complaints were. I don’t know what is being done. I don’t have any kind of report on data they collect, whether there are ongoing programs for improvement, and so on. I’ll try following up on one of the complaints to see what happens next in their procedure.

When I go back to the SF Muni 311 feedback page, and click on the link to check the status of a complaint I have already filed, I get an error screen. Try it and see! When I put in the complaint tracking number and my email address, I get yet another error from the Lagan self-service online government app. As with all the other error screens I’ve gotten to with San Francisco’s 311 system, there is nothing to tell me where to report the error.

If the entire procedure is this opaque and difficult to me, a privileged person with incredible access to computers and the net and a fair educational background and a lot of experience dealing with bureaucracies, how does this process look to The Average Citizen? And specifically, will it work at all for other disabled people in San Francisco who want to hold the system accountable, and contribute to improving public transport?

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5 Responses to Followup to SF Muni bus complaint form post

  1. Jesse the K says:

    That’s so frustrating! I am sad to say that even in Midwest nice Madison, I’ve gotten a lot of flak from some of the drivers I’ve filed complaints on. But then again we’ve had some way-beyond-the-margins-of-acceptable drivers hired in the last few years.

    I remember MUNI settling two lawsuits in the past 15 years. I tried to find documentation of that but one hour later there’s no joy. My search skills may be weak: in addition to local CILs, there’s
    Easter Seals Project Action
    which got Federal funding to teach people how to be advocates, and is now more focused on travel training and “mobility management.” And the confusing repository of knowledge,
    Federal Transit Authority Civil Rights

    The first suit resulted in (among other things) the installation of braille plates behind the drivers’ barrier to ID bus number. (Given the computerized pay systems in use, it’s possible to ID a driver if you can supply bus number and time. Whether they’ll do it …) The second suit resulted in the signs that say (paraphrase) “The Law makes us say you have to move when a disabled person needs these seats.” I noticed the singular lack of MUNI agency in the wording there. The careful attention to paperwork as opposed to the substance of your complaint is probably in response to the second settlement.

    • Liz Henry says:

      Signs on the bus say that you have to move seats for elderly and disabled people, but the SF Muni site says that it isn’t the law. I think it might be the law that the drivers have to ask people to move, but not that people HAVE to move! But I’m not sure.

  2. Rachel Holmen says:

    I filed a number of Muni complaints, usually by phoning them in. Busses that passed me by, or passed by GROUPS of people waiting — usually almost empty busses, being driven too fast. I filed a complaint about a crowded bus where I got partway down the back stairs and then was literally knocked to the sidewalk by the closing doors (miraculously, I was not injured). About the best you ever get is that stupid letter.

    I will say many drivers seemed to hate operating the wheelchair lift to help someone on. Typically passengers were okay with the new arrival, but the driver would be grumpy. [However, people close to their destinations often got off the bus and presumably walked the rest of their way.] Often the driver wouldn’t secure the chair properly before resuming the trip.

  3. Donald August says:

    I am filing a formal complaint against one of your Cable Car Drive name Dwayne, this operator drive the Hyde Line on Sat & Sunday and the Mason Line during the week. This driver has treated me and a few tourist for several weeks with a bullying attitude, and has caused undue stress to me and my health. I will file a suit with Muni if something is not done soon about this undue harassment. I have witnesses that are willing to testify if his behavior continues. I feel passengers and the public surrounding the Cable Cars should not have to endure this behavior from one of your employees.

  4. Artemeius says:

    The license plate number of the bus is 1117025 around 2:50 pm Sunday 10/12/14 on 5th and Mission the (maybe) caucasian female brunette bus driver on her late 20′s jumped into the left hand lane right in front of me not using her blinker or hand signal. I was forced into the oncoming traffic lane. When she returned to her lane I was able to let her know that I have my children in the car, and she was driving reckless not defensive… Her response was “Whatever!”

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