Bus driver scooted on by, and the result was costly

  • Updated: October 18, 2008 - 9:44 PM
Ken Stano had made the trip before.

He’d get to the Nicollet Avenue bus stop, catch the 46 bus, get off at the light-rail station and ride to the airport in time for his flight to
Ohio. Stano was there before dawn on Aug. 29 when the bus rolled around the corner, right on schedule.

But the 46 rolled right past Stano, even though he stepped into the street to flag the bus down.

Stano had to run home, get his car and speed to the airport. He missed his flight anyway, and lost a chunk of his Labor Day weekend before he arrived. When he returned to Minnesota to retrieve his car, the parking bill was $76.

So on Sept. 17, Stano, an engineer who lives in Minneapolis and sells medical equipment, wrote a letter to Metro Transit. “I do not expect the ... Metro Transit system to compensate me for the airfare required to salvage the Labor Day holiday weekend. However I was forced to pay for parking at the airport. I have included a copy of this receipt and this I do ask to be compensated for.” He signed off with the complimentary closing, “Respectfully.”

Stano did a lot of things right. He called Metro Transit from the airport, where he had missed his flight, preserving a record of his complaint. Then he wrote a factual letter, building a case free of inflammatory words or absurd requests, and making his objective clear.

Once Metro Transit got the complaint, spokesman Bob Gibbons told me, an inquiry was launched. The bus driver was questioned about the missed connection, and said he didn’t remember leaving anyone by the side of the road. But there was a twist. The 46 normally crosses 35W on 46th Street in south Minneapolis. But the Crosstown construction has forced a detour farther north on Nicollet Avenue, past the 45th and Nicollet stop where Stano was waiting that morning.

The driver mistakenly thought that he didn’t have to pick up passengers at bus stops on the detour portion of the route, Gibbons said. He was told that he did, and on that basis, the risk management department of the Metropolitan Council has deemed Stano’s claim worthy of reimbursement.

A $76 check will be sent to Stano, Gibbons said.

“We want our customers to be satisfied,” he said. “In this case the evidence clearly points to our mistake.”

Passengers who claim the bus left them behind are the No. 1 source of complaints to Metro Transit, Gibbons said. But that hardly means they all get compensated — they have to prove their case. The number to call for complaints is 612-373-3333 . There is also an online comment form at www.metrotransit.org .

JAMES ELI SHIFFER
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