I'm happy about the new Metrolink branch, but I've yet to find time to ride it. I have, however, spent the past three days immersed in the bus side of Metro Redefined, and it is definitely not as cool as the new Metrolink.
Bus schedules and times and drivers have changed, with little announcement. I've had to tell coworkers and strangers on the street about the changes--a number of them have not heard. On the bus on Monday, the bus driver was shouting the new connections as he drove, and lots of people were surprised and confused. One angry man got off the bus, cursing the fact that he had no idea how he'd get to work that day without the #52 Clayton South County, and that he'd not heard anything about it.
I am particularly thankful that I was able to tell my coworker S about the fact that our bus route changed before she tried to take the bus. She had not heard a word about the change. She is a senior who takes the bus around 4something in the morning and lives in a rougher part of the North Side. She did not need to end up standing out there alone at that bus stop at that hour, in the dark, wondering what happened to the bus.
If Metro had done something as simple as making all bus drivers announce the changes two weeks in advance, a lot of frustration, problems, and anger could have been avoided. I also think that giant "THIS ROUTE IS CHANGING. HERE ARE THE CHANGES!" posters on each bus would have been useful. I'm sure Metro would counter that they updated their website (even though it doesn't reach a lot of transit users, and even though the pdf system map of Missouri was still outdated when I tried to consult it this afternoon) and that they printed 20 copies of a brochure about it one time, but with something this important and basic, you have to spell it out as simply and loudly as you can to make sure that everyone hears.
As for my experiences trying to get around:
I have stood at the bus stop for half an hour for the past three mornings in a row, trying to catch my bus. The first day I was way too early for the readjusted time and stood there for almost half an hour until the bus finally showed up at 7:25.
Okay, I thought. The bus gets here at 7:25 now. The next morning I was out there at 7:20, but saw neither hide nor hair of a bus for 28 minutes.
So, this morning, after extensive perusal of the schedule, I got there even earlier, but again found myself standing there for over thirty minutes waiting for a bus that is allegedly spaced half an hour apart.
So when does the bus get there?
This is not particularly different from my experiences with the pre-Redefined Metro. One day my bus would be at my corner at 7:28, the next day 7:28, and then BAM! 7:46! And then 7:35 the day after that! Then 7:27! I started finding myself late to work pretty often, which was exasperating. My boss is very understanding, but it's still sloppy, and I am still paranoid from previous jobs I've had where employers were, ahem, not transit-friendly.
And no matter how forgiving my boss can be about transit-caused lateness, it still doesn't change how stupid I'd feel when I rushed out the door at 7:25 and skipped packing a lunch, only to stand there for 20 minutes because the bus was slow that day. Or, on the flip side, there was the other feeling of stupidity that came when I'd tell myself "The bus has been really late for the past six weekdays! I will give myself two more minutes to get my lunch together since it's only 7:25!" ...and I'd walk out the door to see that the bus had decided to come early at 7:26 that day, and I was gonna be half an hour late to work.
(And we'll gloss over my lousy attempts to complete errands and social outings that used to be no problem before the bus schedule changes--suffice it to say, after the amount of time I've wasted waiting for transit over the past three days, I ended up walking home from Downtown this evening because I didn't want to wait at a bus stop for one more minute.)
But this ain't all bad. After I finish typing this entry, I'm going to take constructive action and wipe all the plaster dust off my bike and get it ready for riding tomorrow morning. With the shape I'm in, I'm going to have to start by biking to my bus transfer point and taking the bus the rest of the way to work. But with practice, I'll be able to ride all the way to work.
Actually, one of my neighbors just got a job at another Midtown megainstitution, and we've agreed to start biking to work together once I'm in suitable shape. I'm looking forward to it. I need the physical activity, and it will be a nice chit-chat/bonding/kvetching/plotting-n-planning opportunity.
You might even say that my daily commute will be redefined.