Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Greyhound doesn't want your business and the city doesn't care

How else to explain their shuffle of the pick-up/drop-off location in the last week. According to Brenda Konkel's blog, as of tomorrow (Thursday?) Greyhound will be picking up and dropping off at the TA Truck Stop. Since there is no bus service there, and even I wouldn't want to bike or walk to that location, how are people supposed to get to the bus? If you are taking Greyhound, you probably don't want to pay $20-30 in taxi fare either.

Just to be a rabble-rouser, I decided to call Greyhound and ask them what's up. It's been interesting getting the run-around.

First, I went on their web site to use the "station locator." This will tell you that they are using the North Transfer Point (NTP) on Huxley St, as well as Memorial Union and Dutch Mill Park-and-Ride for limited service. Interestingly, the only telephone number or "hours of operation" lists the Memorial Union (even for Dutch Mill), and the Union doesn't even sell Greyhound tickets.

So I called their customer assistance number - 214-849-8966 - and was on hold for quite a while before getting a person. I could hardly hear the person who again told me that Greyhound was operating out of the NTP. When I asked about the news on Brenda's blog, he said I should call the fare and schedule phone number - 800-231-2222. I told him that I wanted to be sure that I would be talking to a real person that could actually confirm this new information. I didn't just want to talk to another auto-routing system or be told, "We don't know anything about that." He assured me that anyone at that number would have up to date and correct information, and they could address any concerns I had about the stop moving to a location with no bus service.

So I called the 800 number and got stuck in the auto-routing system again. I got one recording that told me that the Greyhound stop was at 2023 S Stoughton Rd. Great, that's at least two decisions old. So I pressed a few more buttons, and after being on hold yet again got a nice woman who told me that the Greyhound stop was at the NTP.

When I asked about the memo in Brenda's blog, she put me on hold and asked a supervisor. She came back and said the bus was picking up and dropping off at the NTP, and no one at her office knew any difference. She then suggested I called "the corporate office" and speak to Customer Assistance. She gave me... you guessed it - the same number I started with. When I insisted on knowing an extension, department, or person to ask for, she said, "anyone there can help you.

By the way, the real corporate office phone number is 214-849-8000. I haven't called it yet, but I will, and I'm not going through any auto-routing system when I do.

In the meantime, I called Brenda and asked where she got the info on her blog. Ray Harmon from the Mayor's office sent it out this morning at 9:30 AM.

OK, so I called the corporate offices, and got transfered to the "executive customer assistance" department. There wasn't anyone available to assist me at this time, and they asked me to leave a detailed message with my customer ID number or reference number, and they would get back to me within 24 hours. I declined to leave a message.

I finally spoke to the person that made this decision, and he said that, after 9 month, Greyhound could not find a location where they could sell tickets, ship packages, and pick-up customers in the same place. When asked why they didn't at least do a pick-up downtown, or anywhere that had bus service, he replied that Greyhound typically has only one stop.

So the answer seems to be that Greyhound has completely written off serving the city of Madison, since the new stop is not actually in the city.

As a private business, that is their right, I suppose - the city nor any individual or committee can force them to make stops where they don't want to make stops - but it doesn't say much for the city administration that they are willing to settle for losing the only bus service to many areas of the state and US.