The other day on Twitter, Danny Skarka, a regular rider of GGT's commuter route 54 (Novato), said his driver announced there was a looming driver shortage. The result, said the driver, will be unreliable service on the 54. Skarka followed up with a Google+ post, reproduced here in full:
This is what the driver announced this morning:
When the new schedule starts in June, our bus will not have a regular driver. Our bus, the 54, is considered "expendable" and when they are short drivers, our bus will be cancelled with no notice.
I felt sorry for the driver. The rider reaction was less than positive. The 54 has been plagued for some time.
My assumption is not ALL 54s are expendable, but considering how full they get, canceling any one will cause a ripple effect of overcrowded buses. I have been on many 54s with standing room only. "Bus Surfing" at 60 mph and no seat belt.
They are often short drivers. So this scenario will happen. I have already seem many cancelled 54s.
Unfortunately GGT is not very tech. A Geo-aware mobile app (since we all have a smart phone on us ) where we can set what route we use would be wonderful. It could give us updates. We could refresh Clipper Cards much more easily without the delay seen now using the website. In other cities, the bus location shows up on maps so you can tell if you need to run to a stop to meet a bus. Tag data could tell us if a bus was full. Much can be approved.
I don't know the agencies challenges so it's not fair to be overly critical. However, the same agency is raising bridge tolls, and charging for parking at ferries. So non-drivers are stuck with the monopoly.
I am considering starting a #MissingBus hash on Twitter for passengers to help each other. Something easily followed and contributed to.
If true, this is a disturbing lack of regard for GGT's customers and GGT's mission. Reliable bus service is vital to a commuter. What will someone do if they usually take the last 54 and it never shows up?
I have an email out to Golden Gate Transit to find out how true Skarka's assertions might be and to get some information on staffing and service hours in the June schedule and I will update if I get any more information.