January 11, 2017 – Hartford

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

If you experience an issue with the ADA Paratransit service that requires investigation, please do not hesitate to contact the Customer Service Department at (860) 724-5340 extension 9, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., email hartfordcustomerservice@firstgroup.com, or fax (860) 955-2915. You may also write to: Customer Service Department c/o First Transit, 249 Wawarme Avenue, Hartford, CT 06114.  If you are able, please file any and all complaints within 48 hours of the incident.

Rider and Community Attendees: Linda Ernst, Dinah Davis, Deitra Davis, Ellen Gregory, Beverly Jackson, Michelle Johnson, Peggy Johnson, Karen Nazgiewicz, Marguerite Neely, Bill Saloman, Judith Payne

First Transit (FT) Attendees: Andrew Burke, Anand Gounder, Brian Helm, Matt Lontz, Stephen Stewart, Rita Voskanova

Greater Hartford Transit District (the “District”) Attendees: DJ Gonzalez, Margaret Pieniazek and
Pat Williams

The forum began at 10 a.m.

November 2016 passenger trips were 39,967, no shows 1,309 (3%), and cancellations 10,334 (26%).  December 2016 passenger trips were 38,572, no shows 1552(4%), and cancellations 10,588(27%).

Customer Service:
In November 2016, 182 comments were received from passengers and 35% were compliments, 9% driver, dispatch, reservationist, and/or scheduling concerns, 14% late/early arrival, ride length or missed trip concerns, 34% invalid concerns, 2% mechanical and/or related to safety concerns, 2% door-to-door and/or related to wrong drop-off or pick-up concerns, 3% courtesy, 2% no-show concerns and 0% other.

In December 2016, 192 comments were received from passengers; 36% were compliments, 5% driver, dispatch, reservationist and/or scheduling concerns, 5% late/early arrival, ride length or missed trip concerns, 41% invalid concerns/unable to be determined, 2% mechanical and/or related to safety concerns, 2% door-to-door and/or related to wrong drop-off or pick-up concerns, 2% courtesy, 3% no-show concerns and 4% other.

Staff Comments:

Pat Williams, Director of Paratransit Services, requested that participants keep their questions to five (5) minutes and asked that the focus be on current concerns that have not been investigated by the Customer Service Department. Mrs. Williams provided information about the upcoming new facility on Roberts Street, new vehicles, updates with Info-Client, the possibility of having a future presentation on the Freedom Ride Program and the recertification process. Additional information will be provided in the District’s upcoming newsletters.

Andy Burke, FT General Manager, introduced the attendees to FT’s new Maintenance Manager, Matthew Lontz.  Mr. Burke further explained Info-Client and noted that FT is in the training stages of working with this software program. FT will be reaching out to a small group of riders before rolling Info-Client out to the ridership.  Pickups for common locations were discussed. Manchester Community College has one pick up at the Great Path Academy location. Buckland Hills Mall and WestFarms Mall pickups will be clarified with staff and riders in the near future.  It was also noted that there have been thirty-five (35) new vehicles added to the fleet to replace those that have met their useful life.

Participants’ Comments

Beverly Jackson
She noted working with Brian Helm, FT Driver Development & Safety Manager regarding her pickups. During her pickup for the forum her driver asked her for a fare which should not have occurred. She requested that if pickup locations get changed or updated that ADA riders should be informed of those changes.
Staff Response
Mr. Burke noted that there is no charge for transportation to/from the forum at this time. Staff agreed that communication can be improved.

Dinah Davis
She recalled an issue with a pickup from Memorial Road. She reported difficulty with maneuvering around the vehicle with her mobility device due to the number of passengers on the vehicle and that this has happened on more than one occasion.  She then complimented several of the FT staff.
Staff Response
Ms. Williams added that issues that Ms. Davis experienced should be reported to the Customer Service Department to be investigated when they occur or soon after.

Marguerite Neely
Spoke about ADA Paratransit Transportation in other states. Further spoke about having pick up issues with her home address. She also asked a question about how the computer software works in order to keep riders on time.
Staff Response
District staff informed the attendees that the Visitor Policy can be found on the District’s website and in the ADA Riders Guide. Mrs. Williams spoke about Trapeze software scheduling riders in an efficient manner. No trips are prioritized based on purpose of trip.


Bill Saloman
Discussed a scheduling issues that he experienced.  He stated that there was an add-on passenger placed on his run. He was almost late to work because of the add-on, and they ended up no showing for their trip.   The driver had difficulty contacting the Dispatch department even though a passenger on the bus was able to call in and reach a dispatcher. Mr. Saloman said that he has observed dispatchers not responding to drivers when they call them on the radio. Mr. Saloman had issues with the IVR service and said that he received a call first from dispatch and then the second call he received came from the IVR system instead of the other way around.
Staff Response
Mr. Burke informed the group that in addition to dispatchers responding to drivers over the radio they are also assisting passengers and drivers over the telephone.  He stated that the IVR issue will be looked into.

Ellen Gregory
Agreed that some drivers have trouble with their radios at times which makes it difficult to get through to the Dispatch department. Other than that she had good things to say about the service.

Judith Payne
Ms. Payne said she feels discomfort when traveling on the vehicles on bumpy streets. She understands the ADA Paratransit is a shared ride service. Ms. Payne had a poor experience with a trip in the Manchester area where she was on the vehicle for an extensive period of time. She also stated that she spoke with someone from Customer Service and received an inappropriate response when she mentioned that she felt sick while on the vehicle.
Staff Response
Mr. Burke agreed that the response from Customer Service was inappropriate.

Linda Ernst
Spoke about issues with not receiving IVR calls, drivers picking her up on the late-side of the 30-minute pickup window, and said that some drivers are sitting idle in the vehicle waiting with passengers on the vehicle for their next pick-up. She also said that customer service response letters are inaccurate and appear to be biased in favor of the drivers.
Staff Response
Mr. Burke stated that the concerns she mentioned will be investigated by FT.

Peter Karanja
Spoke about being grateful for the service. He said he liked having a subscription service in the past and would be interested in having one again.
Staff Response
Mr. Burke noted that he will speak with the scheduling department to see where the percentages of subscription trips are currently.  He noted that federal regulations limit the percentage of subscription trips allowed by ADA paratransit agencies.

Mr. Burke reiterated that he will address the issues raised at the forum.  Ms.  Voskanova discussed the handling of complaints by First Transit and Ms. Pieniazek further emphasized the role that the District plays in maintaining First Transit’s accountability for complaints.


The forum concluded at 11:00 a.m.

The next ADA Participation Group forum is scheduled for Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. in the District’s Conference Room at Union Station, One Union Place, Hartford, Any changes of the time or location will be posted in advance. You may make a reservation for Paratransit service to and from the meeting by calling (860) 724-5340 and selecting option “1”.  The ADA bus fare will be waived for this meeting.  Please remember to give everyone a chance to participate; forum attendees need to keep initial questions and/or comments to five (5) minutes. Follow-up comments should also be kept to five (5) minutes.

This information is available in accessible format and in languages other than English upon request.

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