Saturday, January 3, 2009

When They Don't Know The System

The greatest number of problems with newer riders on Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) is that they're unfamiliar with the system. They make mistakes that regulars would laugh at.

Case in point came early this afternoon. Two of us were waiting for the Outbound Route 23 at the bus shelter on Lowery Road in Norfolk. We had both been shopping (her at Farm Fresh, me at Walmart) and had our bags ready to load. The bus arrived roughly on schedule. The woman who had been waiting for the Inbound 23 on the other side of Lowery crossed (with her bags) and boarded, too. She wanted to loop to Best Square, then stay on the 23 to Cedar Grove.

Here's the hitch: had she been patient and waited a few more minutes, she would have been on the previous Inbound 23. As we were boarding on Lowery, it was across at Janaf and heading our way. Her mistake cost her a half hour's time.

If a new rider, a couple simple tips. First, map out your trip using HRT's website prior to riding. Second, if you have any questions, ask the regular riders. Most of them know the bus system much better than those answering the phones at HRT Customer Service.


Michael Ragsdale said...

Reminds me of once I was waiting for the inbound 33 at 19th. There were 3 regulars + myself when someone with broken English asked how to get to the Lynnhaven Social Security office. The lady first asked her fellow foreigner who said something about an express direct from that shelter going to Lynnhaven Mall. The four of us regulars all said catch the 20 to the 29 (yet the know-it-all foreigner, who just arrived in the US a couple of days ago, kept insisting there would be the express).

Don't ask me how we convinced that lady to catch the 20 (but we did) since she seemed to want to trust that other person that was her same nationality (who was giving false directions).

The only "express" I could think of was the 32 but that's on Atlantic and we were at 19th & Pacific. Did the 32 ever come there to the shelters by chance?

Anonymous said...

Ok Henry, a novice is not a good bus rider. Makes stupid mistakes. I'm a new bus rider. Tell me, does that little shelter have a map and schedule of routes? How about the one on the other side of the street? Is there even a shelter on that side? Was the reason the lady wanted to take the first available bus really because she was freezing her butt off waiting for a who knows when bus to arrive?

This is the problem with HRT. No one wants to ride because the system isn't user friendly. What appears to be a stupid mistake by a newbie is a symptom of deeper problems with how the agency does business. One of the keys to building a viable system is to make it so simple even a new rider can use it. Doesn't take tech or a lot of money. Just thought.

Avenging Archangel said...


There on Lowery there are shelters on both sides of the road. The tempature was around 50 degrees, so it wasn't all that cold.

However, your question on the info hits on how we do transit in Hampton Roads. Bus shelters are the capital responsibility of the individual cities, not HRT. Therefore, they're Norfolk's shelters, not HRT's.

Michael Ragsdale said...

Darrell, read the post again. The 23 that lady needed was in plain sight. It just needed to make two right turns to get to Lowery.

Anonymous said...

What does ownership of shelters have to do with providing basic information?

Does HRT have this?


Or at least this at every stop?

If not, why not?

And Mike, no bus rider should need x-ray vision to see through buildings to find out if the next bus is coming, or ESP to discern the truthfulness of express service claims.

Michael Ragsdale said...

Darrell, I guess you've never been to the Lowery stop. If there's a bus in JANAF, it would be plainly visible. No "x ray vision" needed. It's that close