Friday, October 20, 2006

An OCTA Experience

I. On September 22, 2006 I sent the following text to the OCTA (Orange County Transit Authority) via an email:

Sometimes it is better to just state the facts, so here we go!

I scheduled 5 trips on the Orange County Transit Authority (ACCESS) service this week.

Trip 1, Tuesday 9/19:
I requested they get me to the Tustin Senior Center before 12:30 pm. I was scheduled to be picked up between 11:43am and 12:13pm. The bus arrived at 1158 picked me up and arrived at my destination at 12:12pm. Just as advertised!!

Trip 2, Tuesday 9/19:
I requested that ACCESS pick me up at the Senior Center after 4:00pm. I was scheduled to be picked up between 4:15 and 4:45pm. Then at 4:40 I called to check on the status of the ride. After spending 27 minutes on hold, Regina asked me to call back in 20 minutes if they still hadn’t shown up. Let’s see, if I just spent 27 minutes on hold, sit around another 20 minutes then call back for another 27 minute hold. We just stalled another hour! So I called my wife and she graciously changed her plans and came to my aid. As she was pulling into the Center my bus showed up. The time was 5:15pm. Oh, they’ve got a new automated service, you can check the status of your ride without speaking to an operator! I tried it and got nowhere! YOU HAVE TO HAVE A PIN before it is useable. So how do you get this PIN? I’ve found no direction or instructions to get one!!

Trip 3, Wednesday 9/20:
I requested an arrival at the destination before 9:30am. I was scheduled to be picked up between 8:36 and 9:06am. At 8:57am two ACCESS busses showed up for the trip (I guess they were trying to make up for the previous day)! I arrived at my destination at 9:10am. So I guess this was a satisfactory trip, of course someone could have used the services of the second bus.

Trip 4 Thursday 9/21:
I requested arrival at the destination before 9:30am (I had a 10:30 appointment), The pickup was scheduled to occur between 9:09am and 9:39am. At 9:30 I called ride check and got Regina again. She advised me that the driver had an ETA of 9:59am. At 10:00 (the bus had not arrived) my wife left her office to come deliver me to my doctor’s appointment. I arrived there at 10:25.

Trip 5 Thursday 9/21:
I requested to depart the doctors office after 12:00pm. The trip was scheduled for 12:15 to 12:45. I was picked up at 12:38 and arrived at my destination at 12:58. Another successful trip!

All in all, OCTA ACCESS failed to meet its Service Level Commitments 40% of the time! Ok, I’m being too negative. My years of service management taught me to always make a positive statement so… OCTA met its Service Level Commitments 60% of the time.

So how do you get a PIN for the automated ride check?
Several months ago the system seemed to be fullfilling its stated Service Level Commitments, what happened?

If a customer makes a driver wait 5-minutes they are marked as a no-show. How long must the customer wait? What are the consequences?

Why did I not receive a call advising me of the delay?
Frank Austin

II. The response to this email was:

“Mr. Austin,

Thank you for your email regarding your recent experience with the OCTA ACCESS service. We apologize for the inconvenience these service failures have caused you and your wife. As I am sure you are aware, ACCESS operations transitioned to a new service provider, Veolia Transportation, in July. OCTA and Veolia are working diligently to improve service and minimize the occurrence of service failures.

Please review the following information, which address the questions included in your email:

1 . PIN for automated ride check: OCTA recently implemented and has been testing the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. You may use your ACCESS ID number as your password the first time you use the IVR system. After entering the system, you may continue to use your password, or change the number, if you so desire. You may also contact OCTA Eligibility, Customer Relations, or an ACCESS reservation operator for assistance with using the IVR system.

2. Service level commitments: Veolia Transportation has not consistently met OCTA's services standards. Veolia has been required to submit a thirty and sixty day plan to remedy these issues.

3. On-time performance and consequences: Vehicles must arrive within the designated 30-minute pick-up window or it is considered a missed trip. If a vehicle does not arrive within 60 minutes after the end of the pick-up window, it is considered a service delivery failure. The contract with Veolia Transportation includes penalties for service delivery failures.

4. Calls for late trips: It is OCTA's expectation that customers be notified if a vehicle is delayed. You should have received a telephone call advising of the delays for trips to and from, as outlined in your email.

Again, I apoloize for your incoveniences these past weeks. I hope this information answers your questions and we invite you to continue to share your comments with us.

Thank You,”


Anonymous said...

I would say the two (2) times I have actually requested use of the system it has failed.

Once I was coming in on the Train and needed a same day taxi. It took hours for the taxi to arrive and they did not know how much to charge me.

I called before I left and told them the exact time the train arrived. They are unable to make advance taxi reservations (interesting as I do them online all the time). I arrived and spent money on the pay phone to call OCTA and schedule the taxi - never showed. Called again 45 minutes later - more money and no show again. After two hours the taxi was finally ordered and pick up happened.

However, the driver had no clue what to charge me so I paid for the fare.

I called again close to 5P once and requested a taxi and a number to call after they closed in case the taxi did not show up and got nowhere. So, I called myself and paid for the normal fare. I have done this ever since as the service has not been made available to me.

I attempted once to plan out my next day and requested ACCESS drop off at my nearest Metrolink to take the train into Santa Ana and then arrange for another ACCESS bus at that point.

They were unable to operate to my first destination at the hour request; however, could drive to my final address for the same fare at the time requested.

However, being the honest person I am I told them that my ACCESS is restricted for rides to the nearest point where a train or alternate transportation that I can use is available.

I did get a letter back that changes have been made to their same day service request tracking and I have yet to try the new system as I cannot afford to wait around for two hours in the hot sun during the summer.

They also mentioned that if service is not available to my requested train location at the hour needed and is available to the final point that I am allowed to use the service for the entire length of the trip. Which is nice; however, like most people we want to be as independent as possible.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Hopefully they can make some improvements to get the system working a little better and restore trust in the service.

Anonymous said...

i have had the same experience. i go to college and i can't afford to get there late.