Behind the scenes during a snow storm at the DTA....
The work starts late into the evening with our last bus pulling into the garage well after midnight (1:26 a.m.) and begins early with our first bus out of the garage at 4:02 a.m.
But that is just the bus, how does it get there, where does it go and why?
During weather advisory we are preparing; we are planning. Early in the morning dispatch is focused on operators, our GM and directors are driving the streets to observe conditions and predicted forecast, ensure reliability and efficiency and our mechanics are getting our fleet ready. Meanwhile, directors and administrators are also updating our websites, updating our social media with Marketing and getting ready for the GO!
DTA plows are out trying to allow our buses to turn around, opening up our park and rides, allowing our passengers to have adequate shelters and although some are in rough shape, we are doing the best we can with our crew as we have 1300 stops and 125 shelters.
Another overwhelming area is communication with our public. When some questions seem to go unanswered understand we are working on others. Responses may be delayed but it's not because we are ignoring you, there is just so much information and perhaps Superior responses are not answered now, the focused may be on Park Point, but know we are doing our best to acknowledge every request.
Data gets shut off during service exceptions. On a daily basis we have data and voice channels. From time to time when we need communication amongst our fleet so we use voice only which eliminates our LIVE data. You may have heard the communications being exchanged if you were on the bus during a storm. Granted you always have scheduled times and 722-SAVE you can always call but our focus is on efficiency, getting our passengers to their location and allowing our fleet to forewarn other operators of upcoming obstacles that may occur, whether it is an accident or icy road conditions.
Along with the weather chaos we have our phone operators doing the best to get you the information you request. They are receiving real time information from dispatch and on street supervisors. They are overwhelmed as you can be sure everyone is calling looking for their bus or just to see if the buses are running. We do our best to automate this through technology and our communication partners but can't answer all questions, hence the reason for our phone operators.
Dispatchers are always on the GO making decisions on the fly as to how to operate our fleet with little to no adherences and bad road conditions. Bridges at a standstill, road closure due to water main breaks, accidents; you can just imagine the process of getting our fleet on time.
And sometimes it is just out of our control. Although we want to get you to destination safely sometimes we follow advice from the State Patrol and City and pull our service for safety. During this time we sit on hold waiting for the GO. We have operators waiting to head out; mechanics making sure our fleet is ready and phone operators taking endless calls. It doesn't end even when we are shut down.
Minnesota and Wisconsin constantly keep us on the edge. We endure countless obstacles during the day and are determined to conquer them to ensure our safety and efficiency. We always have you in mind. So thank you for being patient, for using our system and keeping our wheels turning.