Friday, April 25, 2008

Valley Metro

So, I like to ride the bus. Interesting people, saves on gas, don't feel as bad about having a big truck, it's nice to get a mile of walking in every day. I also enjoy not driving in Phoenix. Aimee can definitely tell when I've ridden the bus and when I've driven, because when I get home from work I have a completely different attitude. Plus, it's incredibly convenient in this city. For those of you that haven't lived outside of PHX, there aren't buses roaming around every city like they do here. Matt can attest to that. They have(had) several convenient ways to pay as well. You could buy a monthly pass that basically let you ride as much as you want whenever you want for one low monthly fee (I think it was somewhere between 30 and 45 bucks). For me, the best thing they had going were the 'tickets'. These were books of tickets that were basically one way passes. They didn't expire (hah, yeah right) and you didn't run the risk of using them to buy a coke at work when you were really tired. I think they dropped the price from 1.25 per ride to 1.20 but that wasn't really the impetus for using them. So I haven't really been riding since I had the kids, since I take them to school in the morning but I've been looking forward to riding again this summer.

Well, when my truck was broken I grabbed a few tickets and headed down to my bus stop. Lo and behold, over the winter they revamped their fee-structure and INVALIDATED MY TICKETS! Now that really pisses me off. There is no reason why they couldn't continue to accept them for some REASONABLE amount of time and I can't imagine that they would EVER make it so you couldn't trade them out for the new tickets. Some more info (mainly for Matt, who is probably the only one who cares): One way fare is still 1.25, however they no longer issue transfers so your 1.25 gives you EXACTLY one ride. You get off the bus, you pay again. For 2.50 you can buy an 'all day pass' which lets you ride all day long (duh). So really, this is better for me because I used to pay 2.50 for 2 one way trips each day and if I wanted to ride to the mall or something for lunch I had to pay again. They sell books of one day pass 'tickets' @ 12.50 for 5 (which is basically the same as the 10 ticket books they used to sell. They now also sell 3, 7, and 31 day passes which I guess are good deals if that's what you need. All in all, I think it's a good thing because, frankly, the bus has been too cheap. If you look at a bus ride in any major metropolis I think you'll find that 2.50 for a whole day is still a steal.

So here is my gripe. Dec 2007: new rate plan goes into effect, Valley Metro stops selling tickets. Jan 2008 - March 2008: they 'blast' the (old) media telling people the fares are changing and (supposedly) tell you that you should cash in your old tickets because they are no longer going to work. April 2008: Any tickets you have from the 'old' (3 months ago) system are now garbage. Keep in mind that Phoenix is a city full of people who leave for months at a time. Admittedly, most of these people are here during the winter, but seriously, 3 months? And I never received a letter in the mail even though I purchase tickets all the time? No email, even though they have my email for purchase confirmations? What harm is there in allowing the old tickets to be traded in for, what, a year? Who cares? Even if you just allow them to be traded 2 for 1 for the new all day tickets. These things can represent a serious investment for some people. I bought them 4 books at a time...that was 48 dollars! All of the sudden they're garbage because I didn't ride the bus over the winter? I called in to complain and seek some sort of restitution but, alas, I was told to pound sand. Repeatedly, and by managers 2 levels up. I rode the bus home tuesday in a VERY bad mood (mainly because I had to borrow bus money) :(

Well, let me end this by saying I'm very pleased with Valley Metro (didn't expect that, didja?) I wrote them a letter stating very clearly my position and why I was unhappy with them. I told them that I was an advocate in my professional environment for riding the bus and I felt let down. I told them exactly what I wanted, which was a cashless trade; ticket for ticket. Well this morning, I received a phone call from Andrea, who told me that they would certainly trade me new tickets for old, and they were sorry for any inconvenience. At this point, I don't even care whether or not I get the new tickets (ok, I do) I'm just happy that they aren't completely unreasonable.

Good times.


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