No. 1 CATS complaint: Rude drivers


by By STUART WATSON / NewsChannel 36 E-mail Stuart:

Bio | Email | Follow: @stuartwcnc

Posted on September 8, 2008 at 9:57 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 1 at 6:40 PM

Bus riders call CATS drivers rude

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More and more commuters in Charlotte are using public transportation in the form of CATS buses and trains to fight the high cost of gas.

So what kind of job is CATS doing? And what are the most common complaints?

The NewsChannel 36 I-Team crunched the numbers, breaking down a spreadsheet of almost 3,000 CATS complaints over the last year.

It turns out CATS riders would much rather complain than compliment the service. There are more than ten complaints logged by 311 operators and CATS managers for every compliment.

But overall complaints about CATS have held steady while ridership has steadily increased. That means the rate of CATS complaints has actually dropped over the last five years.

Some commuters we stopped on the street told us CATS is becoming a victim of its own popularity. Commuters want more. They complain there aren't enough routes or enough buses to accommodate the increased demand. Or they complain there's not enough parking at LYNX line stops or at Park and Ride lots.But an analysis of CATS data shows the most common complaints are:

Rude drivers

Late buses

Buses passing stops

For the most part, CATS riders like their drivers.

But the number one complaint is rudeness. The adjectives in the customer comments section run the gamut from "nasty" to "confrontational" to "discourteous" to "unfriendly."

And the highest numbers of complaints of rude drivers are on the No. 11 bus, which travels from downtown along North Tryon to UNC Charlotte.

Teamsters Local 71 Business Agent Ernie Wrenn represents CATS drivers. He says route 11 gets the most complaints because it has the highest ridership. But that's not the only reason. Even in the middle of the day, the No. 11 bus is crowded. For some riders it's standing room only.

"You watch the buses when they come by," Wrenn said. "Every one is packed to the max... People tend to get their feelings on their shoulders when they're packed on the bus. They don't get to sit down. Of course it's always the driver's fault because there's nobody else to blame."

CATS spokesman Olaf Kinnard says CATS takes complaints seriously. He says the transit system has improved its response time to complaints. Kinnard says CATS breaks down complaints on a monthly basis and looks at routes, types of complaints and patterns. Kinnard says CATS addresses the complaints with employees.

Kinnard says of complaints: "It is less than one one-hundredth of a percent."

Tomorrow in this space, we break down the numbers of reckless driving complaints.

We'll give you a hint - most of the complaints come from other drivers - not from CATS passengers.