Oklahoma City's Metro Transit system draws complaints, kudos from riders

by Juliana Keeping Modified: December 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm •  Published: December 29, 2013

ONE Oklahoma City bus driver asked a couple to move their noisy children to the back of her bus after complaining that the little ones were worsening her migraine.

A passenger in a wheelchair who asked to be dropped off in a safe area was let off blocks from her requested stop after a bus driver told her, “You must think you are a black queen or something.”

An elderly rider expressed concern for her safety after being routinely menaced by high school students on the bus.

A review of nearly two year's worth of customer complaints filed with Metro Transit shows the sometimes prickly relationship that the riding public has with the Oklahoma City area's largest public transportation agency.

Complaints covered issues ranging from the condition of buses, to the scheduling of routes, to the rude treatment endured from bus drivers.

Metro Transit employs 225 people, operates 58 buses on 23 local routes and one express route and has an annual ridership of about 2.8 million customers. The agency also serves Midwest City and Norman and operates specialty buses serving the disabled.

Metro officials said they take customer comments seriously, but acknowledge shortcomings with their current complaint system and said they are in the midst of improving their customer relations program.

“We want to build confidence in the system, and we want to improve the overall customer experience. Those are the goals here,” said Michael Scroggins, Metro Transit's spokesman.

The complaints reviewed by The Oklahoman cover the period from Jan. 1, 2012 to mid-December 2013, and number in the hundreds. The Oklahoman requested the information under the state's Open Records law.

Officials withheld the names and other identifying information of the customers and transit employees involved. Each record provided a brief description of the complaint and, in a few cases, noted any follow-up action taken by the transit agency.

In some instances, transit officials interviewed drivers, pulled hard drives that track a bus' movement or reviewed video or audio recordings.

In some cases, a review of bus video sometimes revealed a caller twisted the facts. A woman who complained of being bypassed at a bus stop was seen on tape running from the shadow of a building as the bus passed by.

After being interviewed by transit officials, the driver with the migraine was advised “to always use tact and diplomacy with customers,” according to the complaint.

Common complaints

Bus arrival and departure times ranked among the most frequent complaints.

Patrons complained of buses running early, running late or not running at all. Others complained of drivers not following assigned routes or skipping scheduled stops. Some complained of drivers passing stops with waiting passengers, making eye contact, but continuing on. Some patrons reported waving their arms and shouting to get a driver's attention, but to no avail. Others told of frantic efforts to reach a bus stop only to have the doors closed in their face. Many complained of being late to work, to doctor's appointments or to pick up children from day care. They told of having to catch a cab, ride a bike or walk to their intended destination.

One passenger complained about the No. 7 bus constantly arriving early for its stop at NW 63 and Independence.

“The passenger says the Metro Transit is not dependable making him a not dependable employee,” one complaint read. “He cannot continue to be late to work because the bus comes early everyday.”

by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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