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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 17, 2012 10:47 AM. The previous post in this blog was Scott Fernandez in the house. The next post in this blog is Japan almost completely nuke-free. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oxymoron of the Week: Tri-Met Customer Satisfaction

Here's an internet exchange between a Portland motorist and a Tri-Met flack over bus drivers allegedly running red lights in the St. Johns neighborhood in NoPo:

---------------------- Message -----------------------

As is distressingly common your driver of the bus identified [below] continued driving when the light for N. Lombard at the intersection had turned yellow and though your driver CLEARLY had time to stop (I was the second car behind your bus) entered the intersection on the red.

Had a driver on either direction of St. Louis been timing the light to roll into the intersection as they gained the right of way THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A COLLISION. Please reprimand this dangerous driver or ideally fire that person. Don't wait until they kill a cyclist, pedestrian or motorist.

------------------ Employee Info ---------------------

Comment type: Complaint

Gender:

Employee description: The person driving bus number 2708 today, April 14 at 1:54 pm on N. Lombard St., in St. johns

----------------- Time and Location ------------------

Bus or rail line: Not applicable

Date: 04-14-2012

Time: 1:54pm

Location: Intersection of N. St. Louis & N. Lombard

Direction of travel: West

Vehicle ID: 2708

* * * * *
On Apr 16, 2012, at 4:23 PM, TriMet Customer Service wrote:

RE: Conf. # 380084

Dear *******:

Thank you for taking the time to contact TriMet with your comment. I sincerely apologize for the incident that you experienced. We do endeavor to provide safe, quality, & professional service, and I am very sorry if we did not meet your expectation on this. I have personally turned this into the direct Manager. I can assure you they will review this report & take any necessary action needed. I might suggest however that you might have been following the bus to closely to safely see if the signal was red, yellow or green. Leaving space enough to see the signal would be the in the best interest of all motorists.

Thank you,
Jamie S.
TriMet Customer Satisfaction
(503) 238-RIDE (7433; Option 5)

* * * * *
REALLY????

REALLY?????

1) I have NEVER hit and killed a pedestrian in a vehicle I was operating. Can Tri-Met say that?

2) I have NEVER run a red light. Can Tri-Met say that?

3) I told you in the F***ING comment I was the SECOND car behind your negligently driven bus. And your response is to accuse me of tailgating it? Oh right - that's the point where I RAM the car between us into the bus so I can get too close to it.

I was more than 2 car lengths behind your bus. THAT is precisely why I COULD see the light turn green to yellow. That is why I COULD see your bus NOT SLOW DOWN AT ALL. That is why I COULD see the yellow light turn red BEFORE the front of your bus reached the pedestrian cross-walk. That is why I COULD see your bus NOT SLOW DOWN and proceed through on a RED. As I saw it happening I actually looked both ways on N. St. Louis hoping to NOT see a car rolling to the light to time it. Luckily for Tri-Met there wasn't such a car.

You might suggest? I might suggest that your drivers FOLLOW THE LAW. How about that?

Unf***ingbelievable.

Another satisfied taxpayer.

Comments (25)

I propose we all call Jamie S and tell him or her off!
What an idiotic response!

Forward the PR flack's response right up to the GM of Trimet...

Does not this complaint get filtered through the union system at some point? I would think it ends up in recycling right after that.

TriMet bus and rail riders are not really considered customers of TriMet, either. TriMet makes more than two-thirds of its revenues from the hidden payroll tax on Portland area employers and employees. And even these taxpayers are considered rubes by TriMet.

The only thing on this earth close to having eternal life is a bureaucracy like TriMet, living on no matter how bad its management and budgeting.

Haha, what great "customer service". Half the letter with dribble and a promise to forward it to the circular file upstairs, the other half lecturing the person on what have been doing wrong, irrelevant of the complaint. Love the response from the motorist, the gall of that TriMet flak warranted it.

Sounds pretty familiar,

I regularly send in reports of busses running red lights and/or squeezing right of way traffic/cycles out of their legitimate lane.

I've often used nearly the exact same wording in the comment (but alas, not such colorful languate in the retort).

I even got a reply once that Trimet was planning to install signal control devices so that the busses would by default get the green-go.

These bus drivers should be setting an example for the other idiot motorists in this town let alone driving their multi-ton with a little more awareness.

I'm just happy to see others sending in reports, but it tells me that these reports just don't matter.

Over the years I have had many dealings with the idiots at TM. Every complaint I have sent in, about bad driving, rude and unprofessional "fare inspectors", driver idiocy, has been met with yawning indifference. At least this person managed to be as rude and unprofessional as the rest of them.

The driver should never have drove into the intersection before he/she could see the whether the light was green. That seems like the fault of the driver.

I lived in the Hollywood District when the red light camera was installed on 39th & Sandy Blvd. Very regular occurance to see a bus on Sandy Blvd blow the red light and get photographed. Always wondered what, if anything, happened with those tickets. (Assuming a ticket was even issued.)

I have received the exact same response, word for word, from Jamie S (minus the last two idiotic sentences) after witnessing a Trimet bus very narrowly miss running over two pedestrians ON the sidewalk. That was almost a year ago. Apparently, their drivers have not killed enough people yet for them to take notice.

I didn't realize that Tri-Met employs a "direct Manager". They have district managers, and managers who manage managers, but this was a new one to me.

Why does anyone actually think that filing these complaints makes any difference?

Video it, youtube it, then send it to everyone you can think of who works for the press ect.

Bob Clark tangentially hit upon something that has been gnawing its way up into my mind:

Politicians run for office.
Bureaucrats run the government.
It doesn't matter who you vote for, unless we find a mechanism to remove career bureaucrats.

I really don't see any point in voting any more.

The unelected write the rules, they run the country, and they are not accountable to anybody other than their union bosses.

I have no problem with private-sector unions, but government unions are an entirely different thing.

The way TriMet runs its fiefdom, it would not be surprising if "Jamie S." turned out to be a bot that is programmed to generate these sorts of moronic responses automatically.

And I second Max's emotion about public-employee unions. Even FDR, the original New Dealer, thought they were anathema to responsible government.

Unions are interested only in squeezing every last dollar out of whoever it is their members work for, including the public, and protecting their members from any sort of accountability. In the private-sector, that can be a good thing, but in the public sector unions are a malignancy.

As we continue to bear witness to.

In my experience, the union members are generally competent, and hard working. You can definitely argue that they are over compensated compared to private-sector jobs, but they are limited in the damage they can do.

The elected officials, on the other hand, head the bureaus, and staff them with non-union management types and commissioners, who do the real damage through idiot 'planning' schemes, bloated budgets with skewed priorities, and sweetheart deals for the well-connected.

I would hope that someone like Scott Fernandez could wield enough influence in the bureaus he heads to start nudging them (it's like turning a supertanker, isn't it?) in the right direction. In that context, I think elections do matter.

You guys are all looking at this the wrong way: the driver was trying to provide his "customers" with better service by not stopping for the red light. He was just trying to get them where they were going faster. I know when I'm on the bus I want to get off as fast as I can.

Pardon my presumption, but I believe the bureaucratic metaphor that Bob and Max are dancing around is the creation of "a self-licking ice cream cone."

There is a theme running through much of our local, state and federal government; a significant lack of appreciation for the 313 million people who support their monthly salaries. It might be valuable for more government employees to suffer the fate of the recent GSA employees who were fired, will be fired, or should be fired for misuse of funds for an extravagant $800,000+ Las Vegas party. If "Jamie S." has a reoccurring record of disregard for the public, then I think she might do better in a line of work not associated with "public service" and not shuffled off to another office within Trimet.

Hey I defend Trimet in this instance.
Do you have any idea how many complaints come in? Half of them are completely fictitious. The other half are embellished.

So put me down on the side of Trimet this time. That doesn't happen very often.

I try to call the police when I see Trimet drivers break the law, in addition to filling out online complaints and waiting for their scintillating words of wisdom. I wonder--if a Trimet driver gets a moving violation, are there any actual repercussions? Truck drivers lose their licenses or something right? Does Trimet hand out bonuses instead?

Having written my share of complaints to TriMet, they do not take complaints at all seriously. Unless they hit something that TriMet treasures (i.e. MAX), or unless the press gets involved.

I agree with Al that I'm sure a lot of the complaints are bogus, but that doesn't mean TriMet does not have a responsibility to thoroughly investigate each incident. Most buses, and all trains, have video cameras. Since taxpayers paid for those cameras there's no excuse not to use them. TriMet's SOP seems to be to stall the investigation long enough so that the video somehow "disappears". In one such complaint, I was actually told I had to fill out a FOIA request to obtain the GPS tracking of the bus (even though I had recorded cell phone video and posted it to YouTube, and even gave TriMet the link, showing the bus driver took the wrong route missing a number of stops.) Nothing happened of it.

There is no reason why upon receipt of the complaint, TriMet cannot immediately pull the video within 24 hours, and then schedule a meeting with the complaint initiator, the Operator, the Union Rep and a Station Manager and view the evidence. Upon a review of the evidence it can be quickly ascertained as to what will happen next.

The union has largely disliked the video cameras but in the railroad industry (also heavily unionized) it turns out that the video more often than not absolved the employee of wrongdoing. In the cases where the employee was found at fault, it was so egregious that the Union could not even defend the actions and it was at that point only a question of how much discipline (how many days off without pay) would be meted out. But in the majority of cases, the video showed the employee was in the right - and having everyone view it at the same time would allow that discussion to take place so that a complainant would clearly see what happened.

By the time the police show up, they use the "I didn't witness it so I can't write a ticket" routine so it's up to the citizen to issue a citizen's citation and it becomes the citizen's word versus the bus driver's word in court. Without any evidence, and without the benefit of "a preponderance of evidence", it's a waste of time. (I got into a very large fight with a police officer who claimed he couldn't cite a driver who crashed into my car...eventually a Sergeant showed up and ordered him to write the ticket. And the other driver plead guilty in court.)

Several years ago I watched a TriMet bus taken the corner from Duke St. onto 82nd southbound, hit a car waiting in the westbound Duke St. turn lane, back up to take another run, hit the car again (this time making the corner completely) and drive off. It was bizarre - I felt like I was in a third world county such as Iraq or Kenya.

This person must have confused the customer satisfaction representative with a rider satisfaction representative. Unless they're a developer, rail car manufacturer, federal transit official or local pork-barrel politician, TriMet cannot ensure their satisfaction.

Erik is correct about the lack of transparency regarding the video evidence.

Most transit districts release on board video evidence within 2-3 days of an event.

Trimet has perfected the 'coverup' using false excuses like "police investigation" (never seems to be a problem for other transit districts) and the thievery of the "request for public records law" which should be renamed, HOW TO RIP OFF CITIZENS BY OVERCHARGING THEM FOR STUFF THEY ALREADY PAID FOR.

Ya, its truly a disgrace the way they coverup everything here.

The complaint process needs scrutiny before releasing evidence however.

Even look at the complaint on Jacks blog, the complainant has the nerve to request that the driver be 'fired'.

Right there that makes the complaint suspect.

I've been on the receiving end of many bogus complaints, the system is extremely flawed against operators.

Running a red is not ground for firing.
Running a red light OFTEN may be grounds for retraining. Running a red and crashing into something may be grounds for firing.

Every single day every single bus driver will run a red light. It's just the hazard of being a bus driver. Luckily most drivers are very skilled and do not do it flagrantly, it usually happens on quick yellows.

Every single day every single bus driver will run a red light

A good example is the wonderfully engineered intersection of S.W. 6th Avenue and Harrison Street. Buses travel west on Harrison, then turn right (north) onto 6th there. Because of the large amount of pedestrian traffic on the PSU campus (and there are a lot of jaywalkers and folks that will start to cross the street well after the red hand is flashing) it is nearly impossible to make that right hand turn on a green.

And because of the MAX tracks, right turns are prohibited on red there.

In extreme cases traffic will back up to at least 4th Avenue, and last week I have video of a First Student (school bus) that entered the intersection at 5th but couldn't go through - and sat in the middle of that intersection for at least two cycles, blocking all lanes and the MAX tracks on 5th...because traffic couldn't get through the 6th/Harrison intersection.

But, union TriMet Operators didn't have a say in the design of that flawed intersection. Instead, TriMet's wonderful pro-rail folks insist its safe...damned be the buses and the employees who work as hard as they can to safely operate the buses.


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