Mon
Jul 23 2012
10:02 am

Betty Bean reports (scroll down) that the KAT board will vote Thursday on eliminating the Cedar Bluff park-and-ride route, which has the lowest ridership of any route.

ALSO: At the same link, the McMillans are finally made whole (almost) with a new water line.

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R. Neal's picture

Went looking for rider

Went looking for rider statistics at KAT's website, and was reminded that this is possibly the worst site ever foisted on the public by a quasi-government agency.

Do they have a mobile version that doesn't use Flash? Seems like a mobile version with easily accessible schedules and routes would be a no-brainer. They do realize that Adobe has dropped support for mobile flash, right? You can get to schedules via text links, but they download huge PDF files that are unreadable on a mobile device.

The site is pretty and all, but seriously, it is not designed for actual users.

Plus, I was unable to locate any statistics.

ArtWagner's picture

KAT needs help with its communications

I am a big believer in public transit and a user. And, I greatly admire the people at KAT for their efforts at public transit in a geographic area that stubbornly wants to resist it. That said, communication with the public and its ridership is not KAT's strong point. Their previous site was hideously outdated and amateurish, including KAT "paw" graphics and a mind-boggling-ly cluttered basic HTML layout. Their response to the criticisms to that site was to go with a design firm that took them to the opposite extreme. The current site is quite designer-ly and I admire them for the effort, but it is ridiculously un-functional, particularly if you are using something older than a three year old (or less) computer or device and current Flash. I sincerely hope they realize that many potential users find it unusable and will avoid it for that reason.

Their other areas of attempted communication are just as bad. They have a Twitter account, but do not tweet service problems. Nor do they post them on their Facebook page. As far as I know, they do not have any kind of email alert system for service problems. Without any of that, one might think that they would be good at telephone support. Try telephoning them with a service problem and see what quality of response you get. I once called asking why the bus on my route had missed its time -- the operator hung up on me three times before I could even utter a word about the service outage. On the fourth call, he said: "Look pal, stop calling. We're trying to run a bus line here." I miss a business meeting and I get a comedian. I do like their commercial, though. Quite nice.

Nutshell: KAT needs to address its communications programs.

EconGal's picture

Ridership data

Randy,

I have tried multiple times to get meaninsgful ridership data from KAT, both from the current and previous management. It is very, very difficult.

They are quick, however, to provide aggregate data that includes the UT riders.

bizgrrl's picture

I'd be curious as to the

I'd be curious as to the number of riders on the Cedar Bluff route in the morning and evening hours. Will there be many riders in need of transportation during those hours versus an average of the entire day? I wouldn't think Campbell Station, which is about 5 miles further west than Cedar Bluff, is a great alternative for those used to Cedar Bluff. Also, it's hard to compare the Magnolia Avenue route, which is probably runs about 2.5 miles from downtown to the Cedar Bluff route, which runs about 10 miles from downtown.

michael kaplan's picture

I've noticed KAT running much

I've noticed KAT running much smaller buses (modified trucks, actually) on some routes like N. Central Street. Seems to me like a 12- or 15-seat, more frequent shuttle-style service would make a lot of sense on routes with less traffic.

Kelley's picture

KAT

The majority of expense for transit comes from the drivers, not the bus itself. Also, the main reason for the Cedar Bluff route having to stop is the loss of the parking lot. It is incredibly hard, believe it or not, to find a parking lot that the owner will allow to be used for a park and ride. KAT can't afford to pay for use of a lot, but you'd think churches would have no problem with daytime weekday use, or that shopping center owners would understand that the transit riders might shop more if they were already parked there, but KAT has tried and tried to find locations to no avail.

Brian A.'s picture

Should have made the Kroger

Should have made the Kroger lot offer it, in exchange for their dumb stoplight.

Sandra Clark's picture

Going forward

I'd like to see KAT expand the Express lines, including a stop at Emory Road/I-75 to encourage use by Halls and Powell riders. Shopper-News will continue covering this. -- s.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

imaginary route that won't ever happen

My wish list would be a bus running up and down Northshore for the people drinking in the bars, the teens walking on the road and locals who need to learn new habits.

Somebody's picture

The horse, the cart, and the bus

Transit works when it is either 1) the only game in town, or 2) noticeably more convenient than the alternatives. In the first instance, transit can do whatever they want, and people will adapt to make use of the service. For commuters who cannot afford to operate a vehicle of their own, people will walk a mile to catch a ride that takes an hour to get them to a destination five miles away.

Mostly, though, transit has to operate in the realm of item number 2. This requires significant up-front investment in order to create a service that is more attractive than the status quo. They could build light rail that zips people quickly past the traffic and cars on the road, and they would get plenty of ridership. If that existed, there is little doubt but that it would be popular. For KAT express lines, they'll only thrive if they hire enough drivers and buy enough buses to run the routes every ten to fifteen minutes for at least three hours in the morning, and three hours in the evening. This would enable riders to show up within a known window in the morning and not wait long for a ride, and then do the same to get home in the evening. It would be expensive, and the risk would have to be ventured before the riders are known.

As it is, it could be a ten minute drive to Cedar Bluff to catch a bus at one of the three appointed times, a 40-minute ride downtown and a ten minute walk to work (or a fifteen minute trolley ride). That's an hour one-way for what would be a 25-30 minute commute by car, with only three chances to ride back to Cedar Bluff at the end of the day. Interestingly, anyone who is expected to be at work for the standard 8 and 1/2 hour work schedule, the morning and evening arrival and departure times don't accommodate. If you catch the first bus to work, you'll only be able to use one of the last two rides back home, etc.

All this is to say, the Cedar Bluff express is horribly inconvenient. The only riders would be those who have no other viable option (see item 1, above) or those who are determined to use transit as a matter of principle, no matter how inconvenient. Most people who are that determined to ride transit, however, will include that in their decision on where to live in the first place, and will buy or rent in Old North, or perhaps somewhere near a Metro stop in Washington.

Unfortunately, either through a lack of available funding, or through a lack of vision, (or both) transit designers around here seem to expect to be able to demonstrate high demand for inconvenient services before they will even begin to consider providing a service that people actually would want.

ArtWagner's picture

The Catch 22 of Public Transit

Yes, you have singled out the infamous Catch 22 of public transportation, at least in Knoxville: "without demand, you can't justify convenient service. But without convenient service, there is no demand."

Sometimes it just takes a futile gesture on somebody's part to break the stalemate.

Somebody's picture

You've stated it far more

You've stated it far more succinctly than me, thanks. My frustration with the issue is that it seems the only approach to assessing demand is the offering of the inconvenient option. Surely there is some way to do market analysis that can demonstrate that demand for convenient service does exist. It's like rolling a food cart loaded with lutefisk out onto Market Square, and using the resulting sales figures to determine that restaurants aren't a viable business option in Knoxville.

Perhaps the Steve Jobs thesis that 'people don't know what they want until you offer it to them' is the only useful approach, but that doesn't function well in the realm of public funding.

ArtWagner's picture

Overcoming public transportation ennui

Because of Knoxville's sprawl and car-centric nature since WWII, re-introducing Knoxvillians to really useful public transportation would admittedly take a gargantuan effort, both in organization and marketing. Creating demand, i.e. getting people to try it is the obstacle--and they won't do it unless it offers some kind of convenience over their other options. Obviously, a determined governmental will (and funding) would have to exist in order for that to happen. But I think that was exactly what you were saying.

Treehouse's picture

Tired of the arguments

We have many commuters in the greater Knoxville area that are single drivers. If we could offer some alternatives, there would be less pollution, fewer accidents, less traffic, and fewer frayed nerves. Even cutting a commute in half would save an enormous amount and benefit many. We need alternatives to single car-single driver commutes and we need them now.

Kelley's picture

Carpool Assistance

If people want to find a list of potential carpool partners (based on matching route and schedule), they can register for free with Smart Trips. You can communicate with the potential carpoolers anonymously until you decide to share contact info. Smart Trips offers tips for establishing a carpool online, and also offers rewards (gift cards) when you start carpooling and log your trips. You are also eligible for the free Emergency Ride Home program, just in case your carpool partner has to leave early or you have to work late. (link...) Smart Trips also offers rewards for people who take transit or bike to work, or who telecommute. Even just once a week makes a difference!

Treehouse's picture

Yes, I know

I like Smart Trips very much. They work hard to promote alternative transportation. But they only can work with one vehicle/person at a time. We need a regional, coordinated effort to provide mass transit alternatives. It's been studied, promoted, discussed, argued, and otherwise talked to death. Yes, I know money is needed. I am just tired of the lack of progress. Why can't there be a few park and rides made available for the most common commutes? Why can't there be more express buses on the major routes? Why don't companies encourage carpooling (instead of giving it lip service)? What is it going to take?

Cindy McGinnis, KAT GM's picture

Public Transportation

KAT serves the City of Knoxville and the City of Knoxville, along with a small contribution from the Town of Farragut, is the only local financial supporter of KAT. For KAT to expand service beyond its current service area, the region would need to engage in a serious discussion about where service should be provided and how it should be funded.
Ridership and performance statistics for KAT services can be found at (link...) by clicking the General Information tab, then KTA Board, then the monthly minutes of the month containing the information that you want. The stats also include YTD information.
I will pass along the comments about the web-site and communications. Within the next year we hope to catch-up with some of the available smart phone technology and text notifications.
Please notify us immediately when unacceptable customer service is experienced and have relevant information available that relates to the event that caused the concern,including date, time of day, male/female employee, and bus/route number if the issue is bus service related. The Customer Service number is 865/637-3000 and my phone number is 865/215-7824.
As for the Cedar Bluff route the public hearing and anticipated KTA vote is scheduled for 3pm, 7/26, in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building. As verified earlier, locating another park and ride lot is a diffuct challenge and one where KAT staff made multiple attempts without success. KAT staff is recommending that a trip be added to the Farragut Express route (7:45am leaving Campbell Station Road park and ride lot) to provide an additional option to displaced Cedar Bluff passengers.

Up Goose Creek's picture

reverse commute

I wish some thought would be given to people who work in the many office parks east of Cedar Bluff. A young friend of mine had a job at dial america and had to walk all the way from wal*mart after a grueling commute. The location of the express bus would have been great but the timing did not work out at all.

R. Neal's picture

Vote is official

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