Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Snow Puts Communications to the Test

Last week’s snow put a crimp in many people’s plans. For Community Transit, it allowed us to test some of our plans for rider communications and temporary service reductions. 

Our Transportation Department has developed a list of trips that may be dropped during inclement weather if equipment, extreme delays or other issues cause shortages. By planning ahead to reduce service strategically, we can keep other buses running smoothly and give passengers an idea what to expect in advance.

On Thursday morning, the expected worst day, I got a ride in to work with our Customer Relations manager, who was also bringing one of his staff to the office to ensure our phones were staffed at 5:30 a.m. as usual. Instead of going to my office, I spent the morning in the phone room. I got to hear one end of customer calls, as well as listen to our dispatchers on the radio as buses were rerouted. 

We posted 19 alerts to our website that morning form 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., and sent 12 email alerts to our rider alert subscribers. Our web traffic was double normal, and peaked between 5 and 8 a.m. On each day when snow was a possibility we posted an alert before 5 a.m., and also sent an email to customers in the afternoon or evening forecasting the next day’s service.

Our work was not done on Friday afternoon, however. When snow hit parts of Snohomish County on Saturday evening, my co-worker emailed rider alerts from home to affected subscribers.  All our hard work was rewarded when we received this email from the Customer Relations supervisor:

"My wife and I are currently on the 510 out of Seattle. I just overheard a customer talking to the driver telling her that his next bus (280) was rerouted. He told the driver that he had just received a text message about the reroute.

Thank you for posting this information in such a timely manner. I just wanted to let you know that our customers are using the information and appreciate the service. It is especially useful after hours.

Well done."

How did our communications and service work for you last week? We’d value your feedback.

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