My doctor suggested, given my problems in walking, that I was eligible for Metro Access in DC. I didn't think I'd qualify, but was surprised to get a letter, back in April, that I was temporarily qualified for the program, pending a physical at one of their offices. I'm still waiting to get that physical, as well as my ID card.
I was told the para-transit service was bad; you have to experience it to discover just HOW bad it is.
I booked trips TO work this week using their online booking but since it takes a long time to get them to update the addresses you can use, I've been taking the commuter bus home since it picks up right near work, and then I can get a ride home in the evening from the bus stop.
Tonight I decided to try booking a trip home. When I've called the "where's my ride" line, I had plenty of time to listen to their queue recording, and it said a trip can be booked with as little as two hours notice.
So I called to book at trip. And was told:
*We don't book trips for the same day.
*Oh, it says here you booked a trip to work, so we CAN book you a ride home.
*Oh, your eligibility has expired.
There were numerous waits "on hold" but that's OK, I was at work, have a speakerphone, so I was able to work while I waited.
Finally I was told they booked a ride for me, and got me an override on the eligibility issue, since it was clearly a mistake. We had to do some negotiating about where I was going to be picked up (they wanted me to walk several blocks for a pick-up, but if I could do that, I wouldn't need their service). Ride times are within a half-hour window, so I was told the ride would be coming between 4:30 and 5:00 (I wanted a 6 PM pick up, but OK). All told, I was on the phone about 45 minutes. The employee I dealt with never identified herself.
At 4:30 I was at the appointed waiting area. I watched several commuter buses come and go. At 5:15 I called their "where's my ride" number.
Where I was told:
*We have no ride booked for you.
*You're not eligible because your eligibility expired.
*Your eligibility expired May 28th.
Huh? All my rides have been in June and July. Why was I able to book a ride if I wasn't eligible? And why would my eligibility expire between this morning and this afternoon? I asked the employee I dealt with why I could book a trip in the morning, but not in the afternoon. She didn't have an answer for that, and just repeated what she already said.
So I resigned myself to riding the commuter bus home. And wouldn't you know it, it took another 20 minutes for a bus to show up. Since the 20 minute wait allowed many riders to accumulate at stops, it was packed. And the handicap seats up front were all in use. It is possible all 4 of them were handicapped in such a way it wasn't as visible as me, with my cane. Let's assume that was the case, because it's too depressing to think folks would insist on their right to sit in the handicapped seats just because they didn't want to move.
I have a trip booked tomorrow morning. Let's see if it shows up.
If I get 10 "no shows" I'm bounced from the program. I already have two, one from a driver who never showed up (they're supposed to call you when they arrive and you have 5 minutes to meet them), another from a driver who showed up an hour after he was supposed to (he called just as we will pulling into the driveway). I have a request in to have them removed but I don't expect them to do it. I hope I haven't added another one.
Oh, and I PAY for these rides. I put $50 of my own money into their pre-pay system, and when July rolled around, I had the commuter subsidy put into the account instead of into bus tickets. So if I decide this is too annoying and put up with struggling to get from the bus stop to my job, I'm still out my money.
Edited to add: On Friday, my ride arrived as usual, and pretty much on time. He took the most circuitous route I've ever imagined to go the ten miles from my house to work (it's usually a straight shot down US 29 and here's a Google Map of the route he took: http://snurl.com/mv92g
[maps_google_com]), and I have no idea if he's adverse to traffic, likes driving by parks, or gets paid by the mile.
So I eligible during the morning only? Whatever, it's just weird.