Stupid Implementation of Useful Information

The Washington State Department of Transportation maintains extremely useful rest areas for drivers. The WSDOT website has a list of rest areas with good filters.

However, the WSDOT folks are getting an award from this site for Stupid Implementation of useful information.

Every mile on the Interstate is a milepost sign with a number. These are extremely useful markers. And that they appear every mile helps a driver know where he or she is.

WSDOT, however, lists and sorts the rest areas by name. This has to be one of the stupidest methods to present information to drivers. How many drivers know where “Bow Hill” rest area is? Maybe those who live nearby know. But visitors to the state won’t know. Check out this screen capture taken July 27, 2021.

Only after clicking on the rest area name does information appear that includes the milepost number. Finding which rest area is next on the road is a total hit and miss activity. We gave up driving north from Portland on July 26, 2021.

The other problem is this: not all rest areas have their names posted. For example, driving north on Interstate 5 from Tacoma you see a couple signs for a rest area ahead. Nowhere on these signs is the name of the rest area. So, rest area names on the website is nearly useless information.

There is an easy fix to this, if the bureaucrats are willing to get out of their own heads and pretend to be drivers.

Precede each rest area with the mile post number, such as:

Mile Post 054: Toutle River – I-5 northbound

Mile Post 238: Bow Hill – I-5 northbound

or use MP 054:, MP 238:.

By padding each mile with a leading zero for number less than 100, the sort will always be correct.


Wrong Phone Number to Police

King County Metro Transit (which serves Seattle) has its own police force. The police force is a part of the King County Sheriff’s office. On the buses are signs encouraging decent behavior. But, if bad behavior arises, Metro Transit has provided contact information to law enforcement. See below the portion of the sign with this contact information.

The number showing for Metro Transit Police is wrong. It is NOT 206 553 3000. The listed number is the main number to Metro customer service. There is no option in the customer service menu system for police. And, the number is not answered 1) between 8pm and 6am, 2) weekends, 3) holidays. Listen to the audio below. (Recorded 2019-12-15-closed; 2019-12-16-open .)

Metro’s announcement message when closed. NO mention of police.
Metro’s announcement message when open. NO mention of police.

Metro has not forgotten about Spanish speakers. The same wrong number to the police appears in Spanish. “o llame a metro transit police al” translates to 206 553 3000″or call metro transit police at 206 553 3000″.

King County Transit Shows Wrong Number to Police

What is the right seven-digit number? According to the Metro Transit Police web page it is 206 296 3311 (in image below). Chief of Metro Police Major Dave Jutilla on 2019-11-14 said in an email “206.296.3311 goes into the dispatch center for the KC Sheriff’s Office & and Metro Transit Police. 911 should be used for serious in-progress crimes.” The chief did not mention 206 553 3000 in his email.

Clearly the Metro Transit Police know the correct phone number.

Telling customers to call the wrong number for police help will absolutely delay help and could potentially put people’s lives in danger. Imagine calling for the police and listening through a menu system that has no option for the police. Imagine calling for the police when no one answers the phone during closed hours.

Placing the wrong number to police on hundreds of buses is not very smart and certainly not customer-friendly. I would call this a serious management failure.


2020-02-04: Yes indeed, King County Metro Transit is still pushing the wrong phone number to Transit Police. Saw the same numbers on posters (English and Spanish) in coach 2649 tonight.

2020-02-13: King County Metro Transit is still displaying the wrong phone number to Transit Police. Saw the same wrong numbers on posters in coach 2634 today. Twice.


ShuttleExpress in Seattle Not Reliable

We no longer trust ShuttleExpress in Seattle to get us to the airport. Here’s why:

I made a reservation with private car (at double the expense) for a more precise pickup time: 415am. I called ShuttleExpress offices at least 24 hours in advance and confirmed the 415am pickup. The female representative assured me 415am was the pickup time. We received an email confirming the 415am pickup time.

The driver showed up at 330am — 45 minutes early! No warning!

The passenger, my housemate, was still dealing with the animals and other chores to prepare the house for departure. The driver showing up 45 minutes early put the passenger into a panic dealing with animals and other chores to secure the house.

I called the ShuttleExpress number at 425 981 7000 440am Pacific Time to complain and ask for a refund. The guy on the phone kept saying the computer showed 345am. Who cares what the computer says? It is wrong. I made the reservation. I called to confirm and was told 415am. We have an email confirming 415am pickup.

The bottom line is this:
— ShuttleExpress is not reliable

— ShuttleExpress people apparently lie

— ShuttleExpress did not conform to the agreed pickup time

When ShuttleExpress ignores the scheduled and time confirmed in their own email how can anyone have confidence and trust ShuttleExpress? We can’t.


Hertz lacks customer perspective

About 2am I was on the Hertz website working my way through a car rental. Because my last rental was a while back, I had to update my profile with current drivers license, credit card, airline benefits number. That took more time than I wanted. Then I began the reservation process, which also took a bunch of time, because the online coupon was not working. Finally, I got everything to work and reserved a car.

On the confirmation page were two pieces of information:
Phone Number
(402) 489-5401
Fax Number
(402) 489-5455

Because it was very late and I wanted to sleep in, I wanted to leave or send a message to the staff they could read when they got into the office when it opened at 7am. I called the voice number hoping for an answering machine. No answer. Because there was no web form for sending a message or email address, the next best option was to send a fax. I have an email-to-fax service, so this was an option for me.

I typed up my concerns and sent to the fax service. I then waited for the confirmation of a successful fax. Usually, confirmation comes back within a few minutes. After many minutes, the fax service reported failure. Seeing this result, I called the fax number. No answer.

Because the fax number presented on the confirmation page did not work and there was no other way to send a message, I had to cut short my sleep to call at 7am the Hertz office at that would have my rental car.

When I reported to the office staff that the fax machine was not working, I was told it had not been working for more than a month. The local staff also could not understand why a non-working fax number was such a big deal: “It’s only a fax number.”

The big deal is this. I wasted a bunch of time trying to communicate through an option presented to me on the confirmation page. I could have used that half hour to get more sleep.

After calling the destination Hertz office at 7am, I called the Hertz 800 number and complained about false information being presented to me. The representative also could not understand the concern. The response was something along the lines of “that’s a local problem.”

It is NOT a local problem. It is bad reflection on a travel company to present false information to a traveling customer that wastes time. A traveler wants a smooth trip and not eat up limited time following dead ends.

So, there are at least three issues here:
1. The fax machine is not working.
2. The local Hertz location should communicate to Hertz corporate that the machine is down and have the number removed as a communication option.
3. The staff does not understand the implications of false information provided to a traveler.