Monday, October 3, 2011

Bus Fail!

For most people who live in a big city, public transport can be one of the biggest daily buzz kills out there. To start, you have the unpredictable/non existent transit timetables. Depending on the day, weather, traffic and who your driver or operator has been chatting with, the times between buses and trains can run the gamut from 30 seconds to a half hour or more. (It really is quite the crap shoot, and I have not mastered the art of leaving an hour early for every trip I make to accommodate MTA shenanigans. Especially when said destination in only a mere 15 minutes away.) Once you figure out the general time a bus or train is likely to make an appearance; your plight is still not over. You face sardine-like accommodations, grimy seats, trash strewn floors and surly, grouchy passengers that may or may not have similar personal hygiene/person space ideals as your own. This goes with the territory of being a city dweller. For enjoying the perks of not having to own a car and having a ride and designated driver all hours of the night. For a whole heap of hilarious and outrageous subway anecdotes all New Yorkers seem to have filed away in their memory. For the amazing and unusual performances we get to witness on a daily basis miles under the city. Public transit can be a good thing at times, but more often than not, a daily curse. So, that being said, I was more than dismayed this morning when, apart from the usual "barely passable" service received from the MTA, my fellow passengers and I had to endure the ever exciting "bus driver with a power trip" experience during our morning commute. This woman had a mission, and it was not "picking and dropping off passengers." Noting the "Next Bus Please" ticker on the front of the bus, we knew things were not looking good. Several buses had already passed or not shown up entirely, at our stop, and most of the people I was waiting with had the "I'm late for work wiggles." The bus stopped and did not open the front door, only the back to allow the passengers getting off to exit. Fair enough, I've seen plenty of buses bursting at the seams do this, however upon closer inspection, another woman and myself noticed that there was a ton of room in the back of the bus, and no one moving to accommodate at the front. This also happens quite frequently, so we hopped on through the back door, planning to pay our fare on the way out (I have a monthly metro pass so no biggie). Again many drivers let you do this when it is very cramped up front. Then the sh*t storm started. She was loud and in charge. "GET OFF THE BUS, GET OFF THE BUS NOW OR I'M NOT MOVING! YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN A BUS DRIVER LIKE ME BEFORE." She was right, I haven't because most enjoy remaining employed. We explained that we just need to get to work and there is room down here, but she was nasty, so we got off. As she is about to pull away and we step back to the stop, she decides to show us a choice finger. Not her pointer...not her ring... you get it. So at that point many people were scrambling to take down her number for reporting purposes. Then she either decides to try and make a point or save some face and opens the door and lets passengers on. Bizarre after that tirade. As my fellow ejected passenger and I try to board and pay at the front, she refuses us entry entirely. Apparently because we pushed her authority. Look lady, I just want to get to work. That really is all. I told her to get her power trip elsewhere and left it at that. The poor lady behind me got all sorts of F yous and shut your damn mouth from our ever charming driver. She then swore she would never stop at this stop again. (I have a feeling that's kinda your job) I myself, I am ashamed to say, was not blameless as did call her one choice variation of "witch" as I was ejected the first time, but honestly there was no need for the language that was spewing from her mouth for the next few minutes. At the end of the day, thank god we stood up for ourselves as passengers. We had every right to board that bus and she was not providing service. There was no sick passenger, it was not express, and there was room in the back. If we had missed that bus, everyone at that stop would have been extremely late/already was at that point. The bigger question is, why did it almost "come to blows" as they say? MTA, something is going on, and it needs to be fixed. Apparently they have corrected the financial deficit within the organization, but there is now a serious deficit with regards to service. Buses have been cut and everyone is on edge. I've also heard that the bus drivers are timed, and if the choice comes between making a stop or a pick up and making their time at the depot, they will often blow right past. (I have not yet found an article to back this up, it is just something I had heard that might lead to some sort of explanation as to why this woman felt she did not have to stop for passengers). The saddest part of the whole situation is that, she was slowed down in the end anyway, more passengers were delayed, and everyone on the bus had to witness a lot of negativity, nastiness and choice words. I blush when I remember that kids also ride buses every day. Everyone loses. Next time when I take a stand I will practice taking the high road while not taking no for an answer. Maybe then eventually the daily commute, while a slog, will be a respectful one for rider and driver alike.

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