During the evening of Sunday, March 28, a would-be SAFEride bus was abruptly yanked from its route to replace a “main route” bus that was out of service. At least one potential passenger, UW student Rebecca Gehring, was left stranded alone after dark on a weekend.
Gehring, who was in touch with this newspaper shortly after the incident, has traded e-mails with Madison Metro over the past month. Her initial note complaint stated that she was a “single, female, left without a SAFEride”; it was greeted with an automated response. A follow-up e-mail offered Ms. Gehring a half-hearted apology and then went on to note that the route given priority that evening is a less-frequented one, and that “A bus dispatched with an operator already on board can quickly begin covering a route, while the replacement bus is still traveling to the location of the breakdown.”
Since receiving this note, Ms. Gehring has continued to apply pressure to Madison Metro, and has been given assurances that her concerns have been forwarded to the operation’s higher-ups. Upon being contacted by this board, Madison Metro has said that the policy permitting the removal of buses on the SAFE route is now under review.
We are concerned that Madison Metro has, at least to date, treated the invaluable SAFE buses with such nonchalance, and find it totally unacceptable that it has stranded at least one potentially vulnerable passenger.
While we understand the complexities of operating a bus system that blankets a large area, and the potential concern for passengers who might be stranded on routes less frequented than that of the SAFE bus, it is our hope that the internal review now underway at Madison Metro will lead to abolition of this dangerous practice. Convenience simply cannot be weighed against the far mightier cause of campus safety.