Circulator's misleading message blindsides rider
Alexander D. Mitchell IV of Baltimore is a rider of the city's Charm City Circulator, but he wasn't at all charmed by what appeared to him to be a decision too suspend Purple Route service with little notice. Here's what he has to say:
Worked at Baltimore Streetcar Museum yesterday (library work), took Circulator Purple Line downtown to a meeting down on the unit block N.
Charles St. After meeting, stopped off at a place on Pratt Street, wanted to take Circulator back north, have a pint or two at The Brewers Art, then go back to the BSM for a meeting. Then I see the flashing message sign at the Circulator stop:
"Closed for WORLD AIDS DAY Dec. 1st----- 5:30 pm - 8 pm."
PHOTO BY ALEXANDER D. MITCHELL IV
They're serious? How come I hadn't heard about this? Why? Are all the drivers attending a rally? Is there going to be a big crowd? Street closures? If so, what about the MTA buses?
So I walk. Heck, I can use the exercise. No sign of any closures around Mt. Vernon save for set-up for tonight's Washington Monument lighting prep work. And I get all the way to Chase Street when a Circulator bus whizzes past me.
Now, I don't know what irritates me more: The fact that they said they were "closed" when they weren't, or that I was able to walk 14 blocks in the time an "every 15 minutes" bus would have made it past me.
After only one quick drink at The Brewer's Art, I manage to spot a Circulator bus stopped at Penn Station. I ask the driver what's up. He says something about possible closures at Mt. Vernon from 7-8 PM.
So what's up with this? If it had still been raining last night, I would have been royally peeved at the Charm City Circulator for these shenanigans.
The irony? I wanted to stop by The Brewer's Art because they were donating a portion of the day's proceeds to AIDS services at Chase Brexton Health Services.
I talked with the city Department of Transportation and here's the deal. Last night the bus stop at Mount Vernon was closed and the route detoured onto Calvert Street for the event. But it is easy to see how a rider could interpret the sign as indicating the entire Purple Route was closed down.
The same conditions are in effect tonight for the holiday lighting ceremony at the Washington Monument. The same Purple Route bus stop will be closed between 5:15 p.m. and 8 p.m., and buses will divert off Charles Street onto Calvert. The Orange Route is not affected.
I know the city is relatively new at the transit business, having launched the Circulator a little more than a year ago, but it is doing a subpar job at communicating with riders about diversions to the routes
When I contact the Department of Transportation's public affairs route about the closings, it turned out the people there had been left entirely out of the loop. Adrienne Barnes, the deparment's spokeswoman, had to sift through several rounds of misinformation before getting what we hope is now the correct story.
"We are looking at doing a better job of advance notification to the public when things are happening," Barnes said.