Customers complain about tardiness from METROLift service

HOUSTON – Every year more than 17,000 passengers depend on METROLift for more than 2 million rides.

It could be a lift to the grocery store, a ride to the doctor or a trip to the mall.

For physically challenged riders like 54-year-old Melba Carr, who is confined to a wheelchair, METROLift means freedom.

“I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere without METROLift, it is absolutely vital to me,” said Carr.

But now, some of METROLift’s clients are now saying the service has let them down.

“Oh, we have several nicknames for METROLift. We call them Metro If, if, that is, they show up, if they show up on time. There are a lot of ifs,” said Mary, who is blind.

Other riders complain about actually being penalized by METROLift for missing their rides.

If you get a number of missed ride reports in one month,you can temporarily lose your right to ride METROLift.

But, people we talked to said they have been given missed ride reports when it wasn’t their fault, when their driver never showed up.

But by far the biggest complaint is that METROLift is late.

Amy, who also has impaired vision and cannot drive, said, “They have shown up an hour-and-a-half late with me, an hour and a half.”

So Channel 2 Investigates decided to take a ride with Mary to see if her METROLift ride would arrive on time.

“I originally scheduled the pickup for 11:05 and I just called back and it’s been moved to 11:23,” Mary said, wringing her hands in frustration.

Finally, 40 minutes past her scheduled pick up time, a METROLift Yellow Cab arrived to get Mary.

To find out what’s going on, Channel 2 Investigates went to Metro Headquarters downtown to speak with Arturo Jackson, senior director, Contracted, Paratransit and Vanpool Services for METROLift.

Why the big delays, we asked?

“First of all, I would say I’m sorry. Because many of our customers do have special needs, it sometimes takes our customers a little bit longer to get around than a person who doesn’t have a disability. Sometimes our drivers get turned around. It’s a challenging service to operate. We are constantly striving to improve every aspect of our service,” Jackson said.

With a fleet of 390 wheelchair accessible vans, METROLift, Arturo said, runs on time 90 percent of the time.

But what riders consider late is different than what METROLift considers late.

“Understand that if we say that the driver is scheduled to pick you up at 12:00, please understand that that vehicle may arrive anywhere between 12:00 and 12:30,” Jackson said.

Something new, just added: METROLift now gives customers an automated call when drivers are 10 minutes away from picking them up.

As for Amy, she said, “My biggest hope to come out of this, is that they can be a little more polite when we call in and they can start to be more on time.”

A simple request from someone whose everyday life is anything but simple.

If you would like to contact METROLift by phone or in person to complain about late service, follow this link. We have phone numbers and the last remaining scheduled METROLift Advisory Board Meetings listed below.

Those meetings are open to the public and are held every month.

Last meeting of 2016: Dec. 1 - 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m

  • METRO Lift customer service: 713-225-0119
  • METRO Lift dispatch center open 24 hours: 713-225-0410