Thursday, February 9, 2012

Commute is Getting Worse

I talked to a guy at Dow yesterday who just returned from four years working in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  He commutes into Philadelphia from Wayne PA and is very happy with the drive on the Schuykill Expressway.  It is a narrow, crowded highway into America's fifth largest city.  But the traffic moves.  Different than driving in Sao Paulo.

Two days of three so far this week my commute home was longer because a train broke down or was delayed.  I was more than an hour late Tuesday, a half-hour yesterday.  The commute is two hours each way already, so delays really suck.

In December I had a different problem caused by the conductor.  I wrote a letter of complaint.

Here it is:

On December 8, 2011, the conductor on the 10:59 pm train to Lancaster refused to allow me to travel on her train.  I believe her name is Debbie.

I have commuted from Lancaster to Philadelphia on Amtrak since 1995 for three different jobs.  Since I returned from deployment to Iraq in February 2010, I have bought monthly tickets and travel to Philadelphia three or four days per week.  I am an avid bicyclist and sometimes bring a folding bike with me on the commute.  I normally travel to Phila at 706am and return at 535 or 642pm.  

I have a folding bike with 20-inch wheels and another bike instead of folding breaks in half.  I then fold the two pieces of the bike.   

On December 8 I worked late.  On the platform Debbie said the bike did not fold so it was not allowed on the train.  I had been bringing this bike on trains for almost a year and said that to Debbie. She said, "That's not true."  Really?  

I am a 58-year-old combat veteran of Iraq with five kids.  I do not often get called a liar to my face.  

My employer covered the hotel room because I had to stay over in Philadelphia.  Debbie said she was concerned about passenger safety, but she had three completely empty cars.  If she thought anyone was in immanent danger from a folded bicycle, the bicycle could have been stored in an empty car.

I did not write immediately because I am treated so well by Amtrak and tell my friends who drive how nice it is to take the train.  My wife and I are also in the process of adopting a child from Haiti.

But this morning I was reminded of just how rude Debbie is.  I am writing this letter on the 706am train to Philadelphia.  I had not seen Debbie since the incident until this morning.  We are in the quiet car.  She is talking loudly.  Loudly enough she was asked to quiet down.  She said, "I am allowed to talk."  When the conductors sneer the rules, even if they are off duty, that is a real problem.

I do not think you should have customer service people who act in an arbitrary and insulting way to customers and disobey your own rules.

I want an apology from Debbie.  

Sincerely yours,

Neil Gussman
Lancaster PA