Here is an unfortunate tale (that is still unfolding) of Atlanta’s mass transit provider: MARTA. I am visually impaired and use a cane; this is really the only background information you need, and honestly that knowledge isn’t that necessary. So, in October, I chose to walk to the Target around the corner from where I live. Upon crossing the street (where I was in the crosswalk with the walk signal on) I hear a bus speed up, the next thing I know my cane is knocked to the side and a bus goes whizzing by my face. Fortunately, I stopped walking or the bus would have hit my body and sent me flying backwards, or, had I been walking faster, the bus would have hit me head on. In my view, and that of my coworkers, the bus hit me. After all, the bus hit my cane (quite hard), which is an extension of me. To make matters worse, the bus driver didn’t even stop to make sure I was okay; he just took off up the street. Fortunately, for me, there was traffic and a red light to catch him. I ran to snap pictures to get the bus ID number so I would have some way of accurately reporting the incident.
This incident took place at 5:50 in the evening so the customer service office was closed. I wrote my notes down and decided to give them a call the following morning. I had a pretty good experience with relaying my situation to the agent, right up until the end. I informed her I was visually impaired, I use a cane and that the bus actually sped up to turn left in front of me. And then this exchange took place.
“Was it a man or a woman driving the bus?” the agent asks.
“I think it was a man, I couldn’t really make it out.”
“What makes you think that, sir?”
“The outline looked like a man, I couldn’t really tell any other details.”
“I thought you said you were blind.”
I was shocked that she would say something like that. It makes the interaction beforehand seem like a set up. I informed her that I was not in the mood to discuss the meaning of blindness with her and wanted to finish this report. She told me that someone would be in contact with me regarding this matter in seven to ten business days.
Cut to about three weeks later: I still haven’t heard from MARTA and decided to follow up on my own. So I call customer service, give them the reference number for the complaint, and ask what is being done about it. This call took place on November 8th, I spoke with the same woman I filed the initial complaint with; she informed me that it had been sent to the superintendent’s office and that she was going to put me on hold and call over there. After a few minutes on hold, she said she left a message and would have to get back to me later that afternoon; I agreed to this and hung up. The problem is—she never called. So, the next day I called back to talk to a gentleman who leaves a message with the initial woman, who calls me back that afternoon and leaves a message saying she’s still waiting on the Superintendent to call her back. So I decide to wait on a response.
On November 18th, I decide to follow up with customer service, yet again. I speak with a customer service agent who tells me that there is still no word on my initial complaint (which he stated was sent to the superintendent on the 11th of November) and asks if I had filled out a complaint with the risk management office since the bus hit me. I said that nobody had informed me of that option before this. I also requested a copy of my initial report, since that was also never offered. The agent tells me I have to actually come to the physical building to pick that up, which worked out fine since I was only working a half-day and I live beside the headquarters building. After filing my report with risk management, I go to the MARTA headquarters building at Lindbergh Center.
Little did I know to what mess I was to wade. I went to the front desk and was directed to a public phone. I was then, directed to customer service, where they would bring the report down. After waiting for ten minutes on the phone, I was told by a customer service representative that they couldn’t print that out today and I would have to go through the legal department. I was then transferred to the legal department, where I was told it would take 3-5 days to print. This was something that could have easily been pulled up on a computer, a statement that I was told. While waiting on the person from the legal department to come down, I spoke with the ADA Coordinator for MARTA, who happened to be in the lobby at the time. She had now taken my information and will supposedly get back with me. So I wait.
On Tuesday of the following week, I received an e-mail with the report I filed. It was after looking at this report that I recalled the woman at customer service telling me my complaint had been sent to the superintendent on the 11th of November. In actuality, I called on the 8th (3 days earlier) and the woman claimed to have called and left a message regarding this report. How could she have left a message when it hadn’t yet been sent?
MARTA has handled, and continues to handle this situation, horribly. I feel as if they are trying to give me the run around so that I just drop the matter and walk away. I don’t think they are handling the situation with the seriousness that it deserves. Am I being paranoid? Do you see any alternatives for action? Have you had a similar experience?
I’ve been struggling with dealing with MARTA for the last month. This whole situation is a mess. Feel free to look at my experience. Feedback is welcome. I’m working with Ken and Bernard here in our office to try to get some kind of answers from MARTA regarding this situation. Also, feel free to share. Thanks!