Time is of the essence to help keep the transit bus on schedule
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Whether you realize it or not, everyone's life revolves around a clock. The ticking of the mechanism is especially important in the transportation world as many of you in Faulkton have come to know.
During its first month of existence, the Faulk County Community Transit bus, crisscrossed the city providing more than 200 rides – an impressive total for a community of 800 souls. Educating the public on the virtues of public transit has been a fairly easy task or at least the constant increase in ridership would indicate such. Imagine our delight – and surprise – when it was announced FCCTA had provided more than 1,000 rides for the month of January.
Those figures have created a buzz at our board meetings and state and federal levels. The continued growth spurt encountered by the transit system, comes with a few issues, mostly having to do with the clock on the wall. The majority of rides provided to date have been for educational purposes, a fact which is duplicated in most communities with transit systems. The increase in ridership to morning classes has made monitoring of the clock vital for drivers and riders.
Most larger transit systems have a very short “wait period” before moving on to the next scheduled rider. The Faulkton drivers have been a bit more lenient, but waiting more than their allotted three minutes for any rider is a recipe for failure. The following are some tips for parents and daycare providers to assist the transit with the time crunch.
- “If parents would please train their children to be ready and watching for the bus by 8 a.m., we should be able to get everyone on board and to class by the start time,” said transit drivers Dan Ramsdell and Theresa Bartholomew. “The increase in ridership is terrific, but the timing is becoming a real issue, especially if the kids aren’t ready.”
- Before sending a child to the bus, please make sure they have their fare (token, punch card, cash) in-hand when they get on the bus. “We spend a lot of time looking for fares or even helping them dig in their bags for it,” said Ramsdell. “Having the fare ready would speed things up.”
- Communication is vital to the success of any transit operation and lack of communication can bring the project to its knees. All riders are encouraged to call the transit for changes in travel plans. Driving to a location, waiting for a rider who has changed their plan, but failed to notify the transit system is costly. “No-shows” as they are typically labeled will be charged the regular fee unless they cancel prior to the bus arriving.
- The ticking of the clock isn’t limited to the early morning hours. Riders throughout the day are encouraged to follow these same guidelines. Bus schedules have many enemies, but unprepared riders are generally at the top of the list.
- Safety is always a major concern for transit providers. Picking up riders after school can be challenging at times. All drivers are trained to make sure they do not leave a school until every scheduled rider has been accounted for. Parents occasionally decide to pick up their child instead of putting them on the bus, but fail to notify the transit of the change. Meanwhile the driver is waiting for the child who is not going to show up. Drivers are instructed to call the school if a child fails to come out – all of which takes precious minutes, causes stress and anxious moments for the drivers, school officials and other riders and possibly makes the bus late for the next pickup. Please, please, please don’t be that parent.
Funding will always be an issue for transit systems, especially those operating as nonprofits. State and federal dollars remain stagnant while the cost of operations continues to rise. The Federal Transportation Administration and South Dakota Dept. of Transportation have tasked all transit projects with being as efficient as possible in our operations and stretching funds. The transit system in Faulkton is very efficient. Please help us continue down that path and keep the wheels on the bus turning.