March 23, 2007

Some musing on the Bus system in DC



My morning commute really influences the way my day unfolds. Today for example, I waited twice as long for the bus. When it came, there were 3 buses going in the same direction, in a row. Then, when I got on, I heard a person berating another passenger who was trying to board the bus and find a seat. She wasn’t having any of it and defended herself in a no-nonsense kind of way (I wouldn’t have had the guts so I was mentally cheering herself on).

It got me thinking about how driving a bus is really demanding work. It’s so much more than just driving and stopping in the right places.

A bus driver has to
-help handicapped persons board the bus and get settled;
-make sure mothers and elderly people get priority seating in the front;
-ride the bus with a crowd-full of people hovering around the front door;
-mediate physical and verbal disputes (I have seen this happen often);
-deal with strange people talking to/at them while they are concentrating on driving;
-avoid pedestrians and people running in their direction, desperate not to miss the bus;
-keep cool when a passenger is ranting about the voices in his/her head.

There are so many common courtesies that passengers don’t respect. I think a good media campaign on politeness wouldn’t hurt.

My pet peeves
-People who refuse to move back and crowd the front of the bus. As a result, the bus gets really packed in the front while people in the back just chill out;
-People who get annoyed at you for going around them to reach the empty back of the bus;
-People who are so big they take up two seats (OK that’s not really being rude but it still annoys me);
-People who board the bus in a combative mood and feel the need to start of fight with somebody;
-People who shout into their phones, convinced that everybody else in the bus is fascinated by their drama;
-Bus drivers who are annoyed when you say “good morning!” to them and thank them as you are getting off;
-Guys with attitude who splay their knees open and don’t give you any space next to them to sit.

I know the DC transit systems has been poor in the past (and present), but they really need to spruce up the way they work. I easily spend $100 a month to ride the bus and the metro and therefore feel entitled to make the following recommendations:

My suggestions
-Have more express buses that stop every three stops instead of at every single stop;
-If your bus is 2/3 or fuller, don’t pick up any more passengers. This would presumably help alleviated the clumping phenomenon (see entry);
-Stop your bus and check whether passengers have moved ALL the way to the back of the bus. They will learn soon enough not to crowd the front;
-Create a media campaign on how to behave on the bus. Diffuse these messages on TV, in the newspapers, in metro train, in buses and in elementary schools;
– Post all bus rules on bus walls;
-Implement a Zero Tolerance of trouble-makers policy. This would include no tolerance of passengers who repeatedly and with all seriousness ask you to suck their d*** (this has really happened); passengers who start fight with others, passengers who are too loud and disruptive; and passengers who try to bring in their shopping carts, oversized handbags and foldable table.

I’m just sayin’.

7 comments:

strudel said...

Many years ago in Rome (Italy) there was a young mad boy. He didn't pretend to be Abraham Lincoln, just a transport company inspector. Mad boy used to stop rolley tram number 1 (really !) and jump on board. When near the driver Mad boy would quietly give him orders - SLOW-SPEED-MIND-THE CROSSLIGHT-OPEN THE DOORS. Mad boy didn't expect the driver to implement his orders, till he gave the last one. STOP AND LET ME LEAVE.

strudel said...

I see you are a newbie as a downtown commuter. Your suggestions make me smile. I feel like the tiger hunter watching his little girl after the cat. I was a big commuter you know. I never liked to mix myself with the other commuters on board. When I was a boy, the driver was allowed to take the doors open when the bus was (always)full. Then I positioned myself just outdoor at the open air but at risk of life. Later it was ordered to keep doors closed. No matter. I I used to enter the exit door, and would not leave the location. Nobody would dare to ask me to pay the ticket. From time to time I had a very large gym bag with me; in such event my last words before leaving were for the fat lady on my right side. -Move your ass Hyppo, don't you see my bag in stuck in it?- . Conclusion? Leave commuters alone, baby, they are horrible and hopeless.

strudel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Victoria said...

That's so funny; I've been meaning to write a post about buses forever. This one pretty much sums up my bus experience, except it sounds like people are alot ruder in D.C.!
I'm so glad it's finally dipped over 0 degreees-- now more people chose to walk and the buses are not jammed-packed with angry people in big winter jackets who cover you in snow. Eeech.

strudel said...

And last but not least -

I asked to a lady - What about your bum being pinched on bus?-

The lady replied - It depends on the pincher-.

Beaver said...

you deleted me? *sniffle*

strudel said...

Who dared to delete Da Beav, my Damsel in distress ? come out you stinky deleter, I squeeze you like a bug.