ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A family that uses Metro’s “Call-A-Ride,” a service for the elderly and disabled reached out to News 4 because their service is chronically late.
Florice Botts’ daughter had a stroke several years ago. The two live together and every Sunday go to church together but since neither drive they rely on Metro’s “Call-A-Ride.”
“I want to go to church, but if this keeps going, I am just going to have to stop going to church,” she said.
The “Call-A-Ride” service is federally mandated and has been around for decades. It is designed to pick up and drop off disabled people and their companions who cannot otherwise use Metro’s buses or trains. Botts said on any given Sunday her and her daughter wait and wait.
“It’s pretty regular [that they’re late]. They are more late than they are on time, I can say that,” Botts said. “The system is big time broke.”
The service doesn’t operate like a taxi, Metro schedules multiple pick ups and drop offs, often meaning riders are waiting on others. Botts said she has waited as long as two hours.
Botts told News 4 she also has a share of horror stories about drivers.
News 4 went straight to the source to get the bottom of Botts’ concerns: “Call-A-Ride” General Manager Jeff Butler.
“Our goal is to pick up people on time and get them to their destination on time,” he said.
Butler said on-time performance is measured if the ride arrives for pick up either 15 minutes before or after to scheduled pick up time.
Botts said on one Sunday she had arranged for a 9:03 pick up time but the bus arrived at 9:20, which is technically not on time, but not egregious either.
“We are always tracking that,” Butler said. “That’s one of our biggest indicators of customer satisfaction.”
News 4 requested hard data on Metro’s “Call-A-Ride” service. Turns out their on-time performance is often well above 95 percent, though it can sometimes dip due to weather conditions, traffic and even driver shortages being experienced around the country.
“With shortage of drivers and demand, we did see it drop,” said Butler.” I think some days it was down as far as in the 80s, which is not providing the service people need.”
Butler said the company is committed to making it a smooth ride for everyone and encouraged News 4 to put him in contact with Botts and her daughter.
“We also will go back and look at their trips over a period of time and decide if there is something indicative about their particular ride that we can correct,” he said.
Botts said she still thinks there is definitely room for improvement.
“I’ve had it, I’ve had it, and there is no other option,” she said.
“Call-A-Ride” officials said their track record for on-time performance is better than other systems around the country.