Skip to Content

Another Dial-A-Ride Disaster Narrowly Avoided

July 8, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Another incident was narrowly avoided this morning as Karen arrived at work at 7:43. Karen and I both wrote additional notes to Denise and Rose at the Dial-A-Ride office. As of 12:30 PM, four and a half business hours have gone by and nobody has seen fit to respond.

This is my first note of the morning after a completely unproductive conversation with Debbie, one of the reservationists.

Hi Rose and Denise,

Karen was picked up this morning at 6:40! There is at least one drop off before arriving to work. Her ETA arriving to work, as provided by the driver, is 7:50! Isn’t that cutting things awfully close? The appointment time in your records is 7:50 and the shift begins *promptly* at 8:00. Come on, folks. Are you asking for another incident over this?

As Karen was bording the van at 6:40, I got on the phone to check on the approximate ETA arriving to work. Debbie absolutely refused to provide that information, claiming her boss, you Denise, told her not to release that information. I asked her to escalate this matter to someone in the office who had the authority to release the reasonably requested
information, but she rudely refused. In general, rudeness, hanging up on customers and other unprofessional activities have been on the increase over the past month to six weeks. This was the norm under Atlantic Paratransit. The both of you have been insisting that you have a proper attitude toward those of us with disabilities. Please, start putting
actions behind the words by taking real steps to fix the issues! In addition to being forcibly made late to work by your organization, we are also just simply not going to accept unprofessional conduct on the telephone. There will be ramifications. This behavior from an organization with a mission to serve the disabled and senior citizens will be viewed correctly as a show of contempt toward your customers.

Especially after recent incidents, we just can’t trust you. We need to be provided all reasonable information at any time we ask. Denial of information such as ETA’s is petty, causing yet more incidents. I would strongly recommend that you instruct your reservationists to provide all requested information, especially on Karen’s route to work in the mornings. I would also strongly suggest that an escalation procedure be implemented and enforced. If the first person I speak with on the phone can’t or won’t help, then the matter needs to be escalated to someone on site who does possess the necessary authority to do the right things. An escalation procedure is extremely common in all businesses that do not serve people with disabilities, so, if you don’t implement one, does that just mean we aren’t deserving because we’re disabled? Of course, it goes without saying that random call monitoring and an established quality assurance process for the reservationists would most certainly go a long way toward reigning back in the increasing unprofessional conduct. The Blind Access Journal is increasingly entering the arena of audio
production and podcasting. We are able to record audio from just about any source and publish it to the entire world. We at the journal have been covering this incident as well as the previous incident involving the attempt to take advantage of our disabilities. I do strongly advise you check out the world wide coverage of this and many other blindness related issues at http://www.blindaccessjournal.com. As a matter of fact, there will be ongoing coverage of your follow up to Karen’s recent late-to-work incidents. This should be seen as a challenge to come up with a solution rather than try to sweep this latest incident under the rug as has usually been done in the past.

Regards,

Darrell

I wrote another note shortly after Karen’s 7:43 arrival at the office.

Hi Rose and Denise,

Karen was ultimately on time at 7:43. We strongly feel that was entirely by accident. Absolutely no time was allowed for such unforeseen issues as dealing with rush hour traffic. As far as we can tell, absolutely no solution was implemented at all. I will outline the problems with this morning’s events:

First, the 7:50 ETA from the driver was clearly a point of concern and there was absolutely no way to deal with that issue. Second, Debbie was absolutely no help on the phone. In fact, she was rude, which we find offensive and unacceptable. She refused to give any information or to escalate the matter to someone with the authority to provide the requested
ETA information or make necessary adjustments to avoid an incident. Third, Rocky gave the driver two insertions despite your assurances yesterday that Karen’s route was “locked”. Insertions are a clear sign that there is disorganization, lack of proper planning and poor communications on the part of dispatch, the routers or both and that sufficient management
pressure is not being applied to take corrective actions.

Denise, petty issues such as refusing to provide information requested by your customer is just plain unacceptable. Please fix this. We are told over and over that you are the reservationist’s immediate supervisor. You have the power here to do the right thing by instructing them to provide information upon request. There is not a single reason for failing to tell us when it is estimated we will be picked up or dropped off. If the information doesn’t make sense, that should serve as fair warning that adjustments need to be made to avoid trouble. Let me explain to you, in the context of Karen’s latest incidents, the appearance of these failures to provide such reasonable information, which most certainly does impact us as customers. Debbie may have realized that the ETA was right on 7:50, and that we would be making an issue of it. Rather than providing that information, and probably being forced to actually do something about the problem, you want to try and hide that information from customers, to reduce our abilities to document incidents and to insist on resolution. Look! We’re just not going to accept being made late to work. It is plain wrong. As we stated yesterday, it is quite possible for people to lose their jobs due to the poor attendance that is caused when you make us late to work! Come on; don’t you get it? I have asked about your own company’s attendance policies. Even if you don’t want to state them specifically, isn’t it true that you are expected to be at your job and ready to work at the beginning of your scheduled shift? Aren’t there negative consequences for being late to work on a regular basis? Perhaps, if MV Transit does not have an attendance policy in place, then it would be a good idea to draft and
enforce a very strict one for Dial-A-Ride, so that all employees can be more easily made to understand the consequences involved with failing to start on time for any reason.

Technically, the incident was not repeated this morning. Karen was not late to work, as she arrived at 7:43. Given the circumstances, this is insufficient, as there’s no proposal on the table for a solution that would prevent future incidents. We absolutely insist on some sort of plan for prevention of these issues. Maybe Karen needs an earlier pick up time such as 6:00? Maybe this route should be picked up by a driver who starts his or her shift earlier; if you are going to leave the pick up time at 6:15, then the driver should pick her up closer to 6:15 rather than 6:45, the end of the allowed time window. In most cases where she has been late to work, the pick up occured near the end of the time window. This morning, for example, Karen was picked up at 6:40, just five minutes before the end of the allowed time window. That gives you only one hour and ten minutes, which just isn’t sufficient if there are going to be three or four stops before she arrives at work.

I am looking forward to a response indicating where we go from here toward a solution. We would also like to receive some tickets for the incidents on Tuesday and yesterday. We both asked for those yesterday, but have thus far received absolutely no affirmative response on that request.

Regards,

Darrell

Karen wrote the following note shortly after arriving at work.

Hi Rose & Denise,

I am sure by now, you probably received my voice mail. Though, I was not late, I did arrive close to the appointment time * 7;50*. This was only by accident though. It could have been worse. When I got on the van at 6;45, the driver said then, that my ETA was 7;50. Yet, at 7 am Rocky, gave the driver an insertion. We picked up that individual & then, he got another insertion. Two insertions that were not planned &, the ETA was showing 7;50 prior to these insertions! What was Rocky thinking? If the router sees that I, need to be to work no later then ” 7;50″, why do they accept an ETA of 7;50? Don’t they realize, that anything could happen & that I could be late? Despite the fact, that this morning’s ride was fine & ” everything was locked in place” Denise, as we have said before, this does not mean, things are set in stone. dispatch will do what they want, even if, it does not make much sense & will make passengers late to their destinations. Furthermore, as Darrell stated in his message this morning, Debbie & other Reservationists are not being professional & sometimes disrespectful to us. They are not also providing vital information, that we the passenger, have the right to know. When, we are provided with ETA’s we can then, make an informed decision whether to accept the answers we are given or have the issue escalated. We need such information to make certain that we will not be late. What are your reasons for having reservationist not disclosing this information? Does Andrew randomly listen to conversations between Reservationist & passengers? Does he, monitor radio traffic between dispatchers & drivers? These types of procedures need to be in place. It is very helpful to have a QA department*Quality Assurance*. Moreover, Please, do check out Darrell’s blog, blindaccessjournal.com. He covered yesterday’s incident as well as others on his journal. We look forward to hearing from you. We too, would still like to hear from you Denise, Garry & Andrew for a sincere response to Darrell’s thought provoking question yesterday. Rose, thank you for at least providing us with some thoughtful response to his question. Take care.

Karen

That’s all as of 12:52 PM. The business day is half concluded. Karen’s voice mail has not yet been returned and no e-mail responses have been received. Rest assured we will keep trying, taking any and all actions necessary to insure continued responsiveness from Dial-A-Ride for the purposes of preventing future incidents and obtaining some form of accountability.

Categories: Uncategorized

One opinion on “Another Dial-A-Ride Disaster Narrowly Avoided

  1. Hi Darrell. I just read through your description of the dial-a-ride disaster. It is totally unacceptable in my books for something like that to happen repeatedly. I can understand maybe a one-time occurrence, but beyond one or maybe two late pickups and/or drop-offs is unacceptable behavior. I myself used to take paratransit and although there were a few times when I was dropped off/picked up on time, on the whole I was not very happy with the experience. To add to that, my instructors at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind were very rude and yelled at me. They told me that if I couldn’t get there on time, I could no longer take their classes. This despite me calling and leaving voicemails prior to my pickup at home, telling the instructors I’d most likely be delayed. Letters and phone calls to the paratransit provider were no help at all. At the time I used paratransit I didn’t have email access, so that wasn’t an option for me. I do hope that yours and Karen’s situation gets straightened out, and that neither of you have mishaps like that again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.