We’re having a snowstorm in the Northeast today, and any accumulation in the DC area means getting to and from work is not worth the trouble. Despite the forecast of 100% chance of snow, expecting 4-6 inches, my employer insisted on opening the office. It allowed for employees to opt to work from home, but since some of us do not have that option, due to our work being impossible to do anywhere but at the office, there were plenty of us who got on the Metro and showed up to work today. At around 1 PM, my boss told us to pack it in. Since I live in the mid-suburbs, getting home in the middle of the day takes way too long, which is especially tedious WHEN YOU’RE STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF A SNOWSTORM AND THE BUS IS JUST SITTING THERE BEING USELESS.
I got to Greenbelt Metro at 2:38 PM today. There was a bus for Route 11 parked in the traffic circle. It was due to pick up passengers at 2:48. At 2:55, it was still sitting there, so I called the help line. The dispatcher put me on hold for a while. She came back, told me about an accident somewhere else, and I told her that I was talking about a bus that was available in plain sight, so it wasn’t caught in traffic due to an accident. She put me on hold again and just…left me there. At about 3 PM, the G12 (which is associated with WMATA, not PG County) showed up, so I and several other passengers hiked out of the bus bay and boarded that one. As the G12 arrived, the bus for Route 11 changed its sign to read NOT IN SERVICE, and at about the same time, the dispatcher returned to my call just long enough to say hello and then put me back on hold. (It sounded like she thought I was another customer.) Once I was comfortably situated on the G12, I got tired of waiting (approx. 3:05 PM) and hung up the call.
So, the bus for Route 11 was not picking up passengers when it should have, and the dispatcher on the phone line was not helping. I will charitably assume that the help line was getting a lot more calls than usual due to the bad weather, but that still does not explain why bus 62642 (I read the number as we got closer) just sat there and never showed up at the bus bay. So, if the G12 hadn’t been available, how long would PG County Public Works have allowed its passengers to wait in the snow and wind? I suppose it’s possible there were some mechanical difficulties that I couldn’t see from the bus bay, or some other issues that blew a big hole in the route’s afternoon service, but from where I was standing around, shivering and holding my bladder, it looked very much like the driver of bus 62642 was sitting there with his dick in his goddamn hand.
Meanwhile, it is impossible to notify the Public Works department that their bus service is not up to speed. I called the phone line provided at the bus stop, and received a lot of noisy classical music through my phone. There is no email address to be found on the county’s website, much less a contact form. When something shitty happens with a WMATA vehicle, I can submit a complaint here, and IME someone in the system actually responds appropriately. I try to ask PG County Public Works where the fuck is our bus, and there’s no way to get in touch except by calling a phone number where I get no helpful information. (In case anyone’s wondering: I was very polite and rational over the phone. That dispatcher should thank her lucky stars I was well-fed at the time, because a hypoglycemic Monster will haunt your dreams.) If giving feedback means I have to get stuck on hold, then I’m just getting screwed over twice. But I guess that doesn’t bother PG County Public Works, as they figure their mass transit customers have NOWHERE ELSE TO GO, AMIRITE? You notice how there was another bus route, affiliated with a different, bigger system, that came to our aid while I waited for the dispatcher to tell me what was up? Yeah, see: I can adjust my schedule a bit, walk a little farther, and take my SmarTrip card elsewhere. I’m a healthy, able-bodied woman and I don’t mind the exercise. The county gets property taxes from my landlord; they can do without my bus fares.