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DASH network overhaul receives fewer complaints than expected

A new report from DASH shows that the bus network has received significantly fewer angry public calls about the new bus network overhaul than had earlier been expected.

A report made at a meeting of the Alexandria Transit Company’s Board of Directors last week indicated that the bus systems’ new DASH network has been a success in terms of recent complaints. According to the network’s customer service report call volumes and complaints regarding DASH operations have fallen below projections for the month of September. 

The report breaks down the number of calls and complaints made in the first four weeks after the networks’ launch on Sept. 6. The projections forecasted 1,050 calls to be made over that time period, however, the actual call numbers were 524 which is slightly less than half of the projected number. The best number came in at week 2 where the actual call volume came in at 93 calls down from a projected 250 calls.

All the calls made to DASH were in regards to questions about bus routes and schedules. 

Another encouraging number from the report was the number of complaint calls made to the customer service line. The total amount of calls for the four weeks came in at 43 which fell far below expectations.

The report also contained a rare sight of four commendations made to the customer service line about good performance from buses. It was noted in the meeting that this number of commendations was over the usual of what they would normally receive in a month which had been one to two at most. This number of commendations is also considered a rare occurrence by DASH authorities, especially when major changes such as the launch of the DASH network occur.

Board Chair David Kaplan reported that DASH received recognition for the network at an event held at the Van Dorn Street Station on Sept. 22. Alexandria City Mayor Justin Wilson presented the recognition to DASH Director of Planning and Scheduling Martin Barna, who was touted by Kaplan as being a longtime proponent in the development of the network.

At the same meeting, the bill for the new fare-free policy also came in.

The board was presented with the General Manager’s Proposed Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2023 which showed the Dash network’s operating costs for that year to be projected at a combined $637,578 for the network’s operations and maintenance. The projected budget shows an increase of $3.1 million or 13.5 percent for a total of $26.9 million.

This increase comes not just from the Dash Network itself but from the change over to 24/7 service, expansions funded by the Interstate 395 Commuter Choice Program, and operating at a fare-free status. The Alexandria City Council has applied for funding from the Virginia Transit Ridership Incentive Program which if accepted could bring in $7.2 million over the course of four years. 

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