Thursday, March 21, 2013

MetroLift Afterthoughts

Well, that was an exhausting challenge. METROLift is exTREMEly challenging to use, but it's probably worth it to me to persevere. Here are the vexations:

  • You can use the web site to schedule trips only from 5:00am to 5:00pm (though the trips themselves can be earlier or later). In practical terms, for most people including me, this means getting up at dawn's crack, before this morning's ride, to schedule all of tomorrow's rides, because by the time most people get off work, the site is closed... you can view scheduled trips, but you can't schedule any new trips. Scheduling trips by phone has a time window even more restrictive.
  • You are required to confirm your trip on the morning of the trip. You can do this by phoning or by visiting the scheduling web site. The phone line is overwhelmed at the busiest times of the morning; I was placed on hold for over 15 minutes on three attempts... twice on my cell phone as I was stranded outside waiting for the lift, i.e., with no web access available. I don't often wish for a smartphone, but this was one of those times.
  • When you do get through, you find that the expected time of arrival at your location changes from minute to minute, always to a later time, as drivers take on passengers many of whom don't walk or roll very well. This morning, by the time my van arrived, it was almost an hour late of its originally scheduled time. (METROLift even tells you to lie to its system and schedule all your rides early, well before you actually need to be underway to get there on time.) I reached my morning destination right on time, barely. The afternoon van was a tiny bit more punctual; it was only about a half hour late. Even so, Stella, meeting me after my event, departing from a nearby bus stop, got home before I did.
  • I still don't have my METROLift ID card, probably thanks to USPS... I know my ID number and associated password; those, plus a ticket and a photo ID (my otherwise seldom-used driver's license) will get you on board.

And I get to do it all over again tomorrow. You don't dare casually wander out to the curb 20-30 minutes later than your scheduled time, because not only might you get left standing at the curb, but Metro penalizes you for frequent "no-rides" by removing your riding privileges. They're doing the best they can, I'm doing the best I can, and the results are... well, exasperating is a kind word for them. By the time I got home at around 2:00pm, I was utterly exhausted. I had planned to tell you about the custom wheelchair I may be getting, but I just don't have the energy at the moment.

I think I'd better get some rest now. It's going to be an early morning tomorrow...


  1. We have a similar service here, and the main problem it has is getting close enough to the destination to unload people. Whoever designed the parking for medical facilities apparently never imagined that people with disabilities would use them. The ramps tend to be hidden well away from the doors, and many of the doors have closers on them that require healthy people to use two hands to open them.

    The mini-buses that the service uses require a lot of skill driving in reverse, because at one location I have trouble turning the Civic around when the lot is full.

    Each trip costs you a dollar, there is no pass, but it beats any other way of getting there, and the drivers know most of the doctor office locations.

    If you don't have mobility problems, they will use a sedan instead of the buses, but in any case you had better be ready to go when they get there, because they will leave if you aren't.

    Actually this is really the only 'public' transportation system we have.

    At least they are upfront about the problems with scheduling.

  2. Bryan, METROLift hires van-style cabs (regular Yellow or Fiesta cabs) for some of its trips; I suppose that gives them some flexibility, and it certainly makes it easier to get into tight parking spaces. In their favor, I have to say they've gotten me to appointments on time four times out of four... not bad. That said, there was a lot of waiting outside involved; they don't get here on time, but they do get to the destination on time.

    Today's challenge: minor grocery shopping at Target. I also get my meds from their pharmacy. This is a whole order more difficult; I'll let you know how it goes.

    Sometimes self-sufficiency is such a bother... :-)



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