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April 14th, 2005

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I know it's an unwritten rule that the MBTA hire surly Travis Bickle types to drive the buses, but I really gotta say at times I can't blame the drivers for eventually snapping.

See, I ride the 90 from Davis Square to Wellington almost every weekday. On the way we stop at Sullivan Square. The 90 hits Sullivan twice -- once on the Davis-Wellington run, and once on the Wellington-Davis run. It stops at the same bus berth no matter which direction it runs. Being only one of two buses whose routes pass through Sullivan rather than terminate there, it can cause a bit of confusion. Too much confusion, really. Even when the lighted display sign is working and the driver is speaking clearly and loudly, nobody ever bothers to listen. This means that every day, without fail, a variation on the following scene happens. The variation I'm writing actually happened today.

DRIVER: Wellington! Wellington Station!
PASSENGER 1: Is this going to Davis?
DRIVER: No, Wellington! (hollering out the open door at the crowd of people waiting to board) WELLINGTON STATION, THIS IS A WELLINGTON BUS.
PASSENGER 2 (putting his money in the fare box): You mean we're not going to Davis?
DRIVER: No, we're going to Wellington! WELLINGTON.
PASSENGER 2: Oh. Can I get my money back?
(DRIVER gives PASSENGER 2 a transfer. Meanwhile PASSENGER 3 pays her fare, nods at the driver, and boards the bus.)
PASSENGER 4: But isn't this bus the one that goes to Davis?
PASSENGER 5 (running into the bus all frantic): IS THIS MY BUS?!
DRIVER: I don't know! Where are you going?
(The rest of the crowd outside shakes their head. So the DRIVER closes the bus door and takes off.)

Then, as we make the right-hand turn to go to Assembly Square instead of going left to Broadway...

PASSENGER 3: Wait, I thought we were going to Davis! Stop the bus, STOP THE BUS!!


I'd turn surly too.

(12 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 14th, 2005 11:36 pm (UTC)
Why is public transportation so hard for people? I don't get it. There are similar problems with the commuter trains I ride every day... some of the evening ones only go halfway to the end of the line. Many times I've heard someone get all kinds o' pissed off because they got on the wrong one. Thankfully they can't stop the train. :)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2005 04:04 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2005 08:45 am (UTC)
See, that's why trams are so much better than buses. You CANNOT talk to the driver because he's sealed up in a little perspex cabin with only a bottle of Becherovka for company, and if you don't read Mr Helpful Timetable at the tram stop and check that the number on the front and side of the tram matches where you want to go it's your own silly fault.

They are also really quiet and emission-free, and provide really good lessons for tourists in both etiquette and pickpocket-avoidance.
Date:April 15th, 2005 02:07 am (UTC)
Dude, you're right in my hood on the weekdays! (Well, I'm more around Malden Center, but close enough.) I didn't know that.
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2005 07:37 am (UTC)
While I do sympathize with the driver, eventually I realized it's the T's own fault. It downed on me one day when someone from Chicago was flabbergasted that we "didn't keep to the schedule". I always thought the subway would come at random intervals (more often during rush hour and less often otherwise) and the buses couldn't possibly be held to a schedule given Boston traffic. The Chicago person couldn't possibly understand what the fuck I was talking about, "look, I have the schedules right here! And we have schedules in Chicago and if they are a few minutes late we get all pissed off!". It was true, he had the schedules in his hands, I looked at them. I figured if the buses came at the right time, people would certainly know which frigging bus they were taking, particularly if they are a few minutes apart.

Eventually we visited Chicago. Good grief! The cars tried to hit pedestrians *on the sidewalk*, reminded me of Brazil. Dangerous place. And we have no idea if the trains keep on schedule -- we couldn't tell (a) what train we were supposed to take, (b) what train was just there on the platform, ours or something else? We asked two cops who were just looking at the map on the wall. They said that they didn't know what train we were supposed to take, and they were trying to get to the same place we were trying to get to!... eventually we got there one way or another, but late. With the cops. Jeez.

"Do you have hunters in your planet?", asks the Fox.
"No, my planet is too small...", says the Little Prince.
"Interesting! do you have chicken?", asks the Fox.
"No.", says the Little Prince.
"Oh, well, nothing is perfect!" says the Fox. ;-)
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2005 01:40 pm (UTC)
Only people in jobs where they remain in solitary confinement can avoid the stupidity of other; only problem is they eventually got crazy. The lesson here is: don't work, it's just not healthy.
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2005 02:48 pm (UTC)

one time i accidentally got on a greyhound to Omaha

...and between Des Moines & Omaha there ain't a lot of good places to get off the bus. But it wasn't my fault, I swear. They were having a strike and all the staff had been moved in from other cities and two different people told me it was the bus I wanted (going NORTH toward MINNEAPOLIS stopping at BOONDOCKS, not going WEST toward OMAHA stopping NOWHERE). I swear. I cried. I ended up in Omaha anyway.

The bus drivers in Minneapolis are awesome, though. Everyone says "good morning!" when they get on the bus and "thank you!" when they get off, and since the bus stops all just say BUS instead of something helpful like "14, 94, 494 south/east" and most stops don't have schedules posted, you can just hop up on a random bus and ask how to get where you're going.

They also have a helpful infoline that generally answers within a few minutes (though they assume you aren't willing/able to walk AT ALL and unless you say "I'll walk up to 6 blocks" or whatever they'll give you complicated and time-consuming transfer options instead of saying, like "And your destination is 4 blocks south on the street the bus stops on", plus an "online trip planner" that's almost always correct.

On the other hand they're raising fares & cutting service again this year. Whoo! $80/mo to ride the bus to work!
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2005 05:08 pm (UTC)

Re: one time i accidentally got on a greyhound to Omaha

Beats the $125/month it takes to park downtown! Plus gas!
I've been ridin' the bus up here for 3 years now and it's just great, I can't believe I didn't switch earlier.
Date:April 15th, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC)


I loves the Minneapolis bus system. My bus picks up a block from my house in the far North suburbs, and drops off a block from work in downtown Minneapolis. And the reverse is true. It couldn't possibly be more convenient for me, unless the thing rolled up to the house in the morning.

I make a point of thanking the driver when I get off the bus. They have a hard enough job without everyone being all surly and stuff.
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2005 07:07 pm (UTC)

subsidized parking

Yeah, the Minneapolis buses are a joy. I tried to ask a New York bus driver if his bus stopped at a specific corner one time...he made fun of me over the loudspeaker so all the other riders would hate me, too. And didn't answer my question.

Parking is ridiculously cheap where I work. The Strib owns like 5 blocks over here on the edge of downtown so monthly parking for employees is like $40. And I only live 2 miles away - usually I ride my bike all summer. Which is FREE! FREE! FREE! Since I'm still all morning sick I've actually been driving 2-3 days a week - it's $4/day if we don't have a monthly contract, and that's only 50 cents more than the rush hour bus 2 ways.

Wow, this is making me angry again that the company stopped subsidizing bus passes. We used to get a $2 discount on a $22 bus pass. I didn't realize the parking fees were so far below market.

Date:April 15th, 2005 09:46 pm (UTC)

Re: subsidized parking

I work in downtown Mpls at 225 S 6th. My employer has a plan that allows us to take out up to $200/mo pre-tax and use that to pay for parking or bus/rail passes. It's not as good as company-paid parking, but it's a damn sight better than nothing.
Date:April 15th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC)
And people wonder *why* I am so anti-social and down on "the average human".

Whenever I witness one of these situations I find myself totally embarassed to even be of the same species and look around for a convenient hole to crawl into. Man I want my personal teleporter or invisibility bracelet so I can just get away from the insanity that is Man.

(Gods I'm a cheery son-of-a-bitch, aren't I?)

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