Bus, Metro riders' top gripe is on-time performance
Lateness was the No. 1 concern of riders on the Maryland Transit Administration's local bus system and Metro subway -- whether they were satisfied with the service or not -- according to a survey conducted by the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance.
The group's interim report on the first three months of its "Rate Your Ride" survey found that Metro customers are significantly more pleased with their service than bus riders. On a scale in which a 1 indicated excellence and a 4 "major problems," riders rated the Metro 2.0 and the bus service 2.8.
The alliance received more than 4,000 responses to its survey via its web page and text messages. While it sought responses from riders of all the MTA's services, the group said it did not have enough responses from riders of MARC commuter trains, the light rail system and Mobility cabs and vans to include them in their results in the interim report.
The survey found that 87 percent of Metro riders use the system, which runs from Owings Mills to Johns Hopkins Hospital, to go to and from work, while the reasons for using the bus system are much more varied.
When asked to rate the reasons for their ratings of the system, bus riders overwhelmingly pointed to on-time performance as their chief concern whether they gave the MTA high ratings or low. Subway riders who were happy with the system cited on-time performance at roughly five times the rate of those who were dissatisfied. Unhappy bus riders were twice as likely to point to on-time performance as a concern than the satisfied ones.
Other top concerns of the dissatisfied bus riders were rude drivers, skipped stops and a general feeling of discomfort. Among satisfied riders, however, the second-leading reason given for the high rating was friendly drivers. The number of riders praising the friendly drivers outnumbered those complaining about their rude counterparts by 241 to 172.
The survey also sought to identify the bus routes with the most and fewest problems, as rated by all riders and by city public school systems. The highest-rated routes among all riders were 310. 120 and 411 -- express lines from the outer suburbs. Students gave their highest ratings to Routes, 33, 22, 64, 35, 91, 51 and 54.
The worst-rated bus routes among all riders were Nos. 77, 55, 15 and 27. Students gave their lowest marks to Routes 27, 36, 21, 15, 5, 19, 8 and 40.
Michelle L. Whelley, president of the transportation alliance, said her group will work with the MTA and the Citizens Planning and Housing Association to identify remedies for the problems of the most troubled routes. She said the alliance's survey responses have already prompted the MTA to take corrective measures on Route 77.
Whelley said the survey will continue through May and that the group will produce a final report in June. She said efforts are being made to increase the sample of users of other MTA services.