Joe Stanford, who lives in the Bella Vista senior complex, said the unreliable public MyRide shuttle service made him miss three physical therapy appointments, and forced him to start carrying his medication with him, because he never knows if he’ll get home to take it on time.
Stanford (pictured above) made those comments at a meeting of MyRide riders Thursday afternoon at Greater New Haven Transit District (GNHTD) offices on Sherman Avenue in Hamden. Stanford was one of about two dozen riders who showed up to offer feedback on the transit service, which provides on-demand rides for elderly and disabled people.
Kimberly Dunham, the GNHTD’s new deputy director, heard numerous complaints like Stanford’s and promised that improvements are on the way. The district recently began using new logistics software to help coordinate all the rides, she said. And MyRide is planning to have about five new shuttles on the road soon, said Al Naudus, operations manager.
Riders complained repeatedly about the MyRide system’s inefficiency and long delays. Stanford said that when he and his neighbor in another tower at Bella Vista call for rides to the same destination, MyRide sends two shuttles rather than putting them together on one.
“There’s so much waste!” said Stanford (pictured being helped out of a van to attend the hearing). “I can’t fathom it.”
He said his physical therapist asked him to stop coming, because he kept missing appointments due to late shuttles. “It’s very upsetting.”
Dunham said she heard the complaints “loud and clear” and promised to “dig even deeper” to make improvements. She reminded riders that “this is public transportation, not a taxi.”
Dunham said two tech experts will be working with GNHTD next week to improve the software it uses to deploy buses.
Susan St. John (pictured) said she has had to wait for over an hour to be picked up. “You’re stealing hours from me and that should not happen.”
Naudus and Dunham said GNHTD checks drivers manifests and coaches and disciplines drivers who are chronically late.
It’s not just the drivers, riders said. The system doesn’t leave them enough time to get to their pickups and drop offs. Sister Cecilia Scaduto (pictured), director of an adult day care center in Hamden said the system delivered one of her clients—a woman with dementia—to her old address and not her current one.
“We schedule 700 trips on a peak day,” said Dunham.
Riders said they sometimes have to wait up to 20 minutes to speak with someone when they call to order a shuttle. “I read a book while waiting for someone to pick up,” said Irene Puccino.
Dunham (pictured) promised improvement in all areas.
“You’ll see action,” she vowed.
posted by: 5FingersJoe on May 16, 2014 9:25am
Your story is accurate, Tom. At this, the 3rd meeting we riders attended, the complaints (and answers) are the same. MyRide management needs to communicate more effectively with us. For example, we know now that, to get just one van to pickup multiple riders from the same origin and to the same destination address, only one of us must make the request. So, we too must communicate among ourselves. Or, MyRide should revise its computer program so that it would give an alert that multiple riders are leaving from a common address to go to a common destination. It’s a simple programming problem—if the source code allows such a change.
posted by: Atwater on May 16, 2014 9:48am
The True Vote is based on, what could be, a false premise. Raising taxes might not automatically improve the service of MyRide. However, I was shocked not to see more “yes” votes. If MyRide needs more funding to improve service than the community should support their mission.
posted by: 5FingersJoe on May 16, 2014 12:00pm
I already read and consented to the comment policy and do not understand why I must repeat what I’ve done.
posted by: PH on May 16, 2014 1:00pm
How much would it cost to privatize this service? I am not generally in favor of privatizing functions that are better performed by city workers, but this really just seems to be a taxi service. Are the drivers specially trained to a degree that this couldn’t be done by a contractor?
posted by: mm on May 16, 2014 1:53pm
From 2010 to 2019 my mother depended on My Ride while living in an assisted living facility in New Haven. Only once in three years was her ride delayed and it was due to weather. The drivers went out of their way to accommodate mom, her wheelchair and her aide. When mom moved to a nursing home in the Valley, My Rode even made the transfer going just beyond their zone at a ridiculous low fare of $2.60. A private wheelchair car service wanted $290. New Haven area seniors don’t know how much better My Rode is than the service provided in the Valley Transit District or Bridgeport district.
In the three years of use, our only, but constant complaint was the poor telephone service. It took far too long to get an answer and book a ride.
posted by: 5FingersJoe on May 16, 2014 8:11pm
PWDs (persons with disabilities) who have HUSKY C (Connecticut’s euphemism for Medicaid) can get “free” NEMT (non-emergency medical transport) to medical/dental appointments. But ..... lots of luck. Check out WTNH-TV’s investigative report at http://wtnh.com/2014/04/30/no-show-rides-cost-taxpayers-money/
Yeah, it’s free—but operated by Logisticare. Rides show late to and from appointments, or don’t show at all. I’ve been abandoned at medical offices and a hospital. Now dreading having to go to medical/dental appointments, I ask my aide to take me.