Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Adventures With MATA: In & Out

Regular readers know that Mr. Mike doesn't own a car. It's nothing legal. I have a valid driver's license and all. It's just that I made conscious decision about 15 years ago do do without. (Hah! All you middle-class liberal enviromentalists with your recycling and carbon credits can bite my bus pass!) Trying to get around courtesy of MATA can often be an adventure in itself.

Take the recent Memorial Day holiday. On the old MATA website notices about holiday bus schedules appeared on the front page. Not so now, thanks to the chucklehead who redesigned the website! Notices like that are on a deeper page for "News and Press Releases." If they appear. There was nothing about a changed schedule. Knowing better, I called the MATA number and after playing a frustrating game of "whack-a-button" got to a human who told me the changes. I pointed out the website didn't say anything about it and she didn't really care. Not her job. the website was never updated. Thanks MATA!

On June 10th, a whole lot of route change went into effect. New schedules aren't released in advance, so I went, once again, to the website where, on June 11th, they still didn't have the new route schedules posts. Some of these changes were important routes to me (2-Madison, 50-Poplar and 53-Summer) but it seemed the only way I'd learn the new routes was to make a special trip downtown to the North End Terminal. Or risk waiting a long time for a bus that might not be coming....

[Digression the first: Turns out, the Memphis Center for Independent Living right around the corner had the complete, updated library of schedules. Way to go, MCIL! And thanks to Mark for the pointer.]

So today, I'm waiting for the 2-Madison and it's already 10 minutes late. Across the street I see a 13-Lauderdale sitting full and motionless at the other stop. He's waiting for a replacement bus to show up because his crapped out. No idea when it was coming.

Mine shows up and I learn, to my surprise, that busses going out along 2-Madison are the same, but if they are incoming to downtown along that same route, they are now 13-Lauderdales. Which explains why that other bus was on Madison. Glad I learned that before I was out east near the UofM and let that 13-Lauderdale pass me by unknowing!

[Digression the second: Don't let the names fool you. Just because it's a 2-Madison doesn't mean it travels along Madison. Near the Downtown and the Medical District it bounces around like a pinball in bumper city along all sorts of detours. Heck, the 53-Summer takes a sidetrip off Summer such that it's possible to be between two other bus-stop signs but not actually be on the route! Same with the 50-Poplar around the UofM area.]

Today's lesson: You really have to do your homework if you're going to ride the bus. And don't depend on MATA to help. That's not the office's job. (But the drivers are good about helping out.)

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