'Unacceptable:' Raleigh leaders apologize after problem-plagued rollout of paratransit bus software

Joel Brown Image
Thursday, August 17, 2023
Leaders apologize for problem-plagued GoRaleigh Access bus software
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Raleigh city leaders got an earful from residents with disabilities who were left fuming after software changes with the city's paratransit bus service caused delays and disruptions.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Hundreds of Raleigh residents with disabilities are fuming after software changes with the city's paratransit bus service has left them in a lurch. The bus system, called GoRaleigh Access, rolled out new software this month after the old program was sold twice in 18 months. But some of the city's most vulnerable residents called the new system a failure.

It was uproar at Raleigh City Hall this week because of the rollout of new software for the city's paratransit bus service that hundreds of residents with disabilities rely on daily.

"You got to wait too long to be picked up if you get picked up at all," one rider told the council.

Driver Adam Mason added, "This system was rolled out prematurely. It was not evaluated for anything."

Kashinda Marche shared the frustration that reached new levels on Aug. 1, when Raleigh's paratransit system switched software, changing how it manages dispatch calls.

GoRaleigh Access buses average 1,200 trips a day for people with disabilities who can't use the GoRaleigh fixed bus system. Marche's years-long struggle with peripheral neuropathy left her unable to walk and reliant on a wheelchair and GoRaleigh Access.

"I must have waited close to an hour beyond my pickup time," she told ABC11. "When I called the dispatch service, we get these nonchalant type of responses: 'Yeah, yeah, we hear you, but what do you expect for us to do.'"

Back at City Hall, 80-year-old William Massey, who is blind, told Raleigh leaders that he waited hours in the August heat waiting for his pickup at Pullen Park

"Only to find out after three hours and 12 minutes that they had the wrong address," Massey said.

Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin was apologetic.

"It's heartbreaking to listen to these stories. We'll do better and we can do better," Baldwin said.

The city manager called the problems "unacceptable."

Raleigh's transportation manager, David Walker, said the new software is designed to provide real-time trip information to riders and city staff and allow for growth. But he conceded that the new system is still not where it needs to be.

"I do want you to know we hear you," Walker told the frustrated audience members. "It certainly was not our intent when this change in software was made to cause this disruption."

Baldwin and city council members had some tough questions for Walker. Baldwin wants an update on the situation at next month's council meeting. She also called for city staffers to seek more input from real residents with disabilities.