Thursday, November 16, 2006

This time Tri-met gets a big fat F

Last night I went out to the bus stop at 6:00 to catch the 6:06 number 77 bus. I stood in a punishing monsoon for a full half hour until finally one came at 6:30. I installed my bike on the front, and boarded. The driver radiated crabbiness – a don’t-even-ask-me sort of demeanor. But this is my great experiment and I needed to know. I groped for the most diplomatic question construction I could find, bypassing Where the heck have you been, I’m drenched to the bone! for the more polite inquiry, “Are the buses running late tonight?”

He grumbled something about one of the buses “done brook down.” I said I’d gotten out there at six, hoping to catch the 6:06. He answered again, a few degrees more irritated. “That was the one before me! That’s the one that done brook down!”

“Oh,” I answered, at a loss for what else to say. “Well…. that’s too bad…” (for me, that is).

Whatever. I don’t require that a bus driver act as if he’s my best friend. (In fact I find such a level of customer service kind of annoying.) If I had to drive a monster like that around, I’d be crabby in the best of weather. They can be as crabby as they want, long as I get what I need, which in this case was a bus to show up reasonably on schedule.

To sum up: Monday the 5:30 bus never appeared, and Wednesday the 6:06 bus never appeared. So far I’m not terribly impressed. (Tuesday was rainless, so I rode my bike. Plan B, if you remember, is to switch to the bus when it’s both dark and raining.)

After we crossed the Steel Bridge, as the bus was pulling away from a stop, a large man outside who’d apparently just barely missed it began beating on the windows to get the driver’s attention. The driver opted to ignore him, even when two passengers (one of them me) called out to him loud and clear that someone was trying to get on. The bus had just barely gotten rolling, but do you think the driver could be bothered to stop for the guy? No way. Off he went. As if to say, Too bad for you, Mr. Shmuckface, you missed the bus! So what if it’s raining so hard out there you could drown standing up?

Inexcusable. Now we’ve gone way past crabby into the Totally Rude zone. This is where I would begin to seriously question whether that guy’s in the right job. Someone who loathes people that much would do better in a job that removes them from interactions with other human beings.

Waiting time? 30 minutes. Bus ride time? 45 minutes. Bike ride time? 10 minutes. Total commute time? One hour and 25 minutes. That’s exactly three times longer than it would have taken me to just ride my bike the whole way. This is not acceptable.

Besides the fact that I arrived absolutely pooped without having done a damn thing, my plan to go to the gym when I got home went right down the storm drain. I’m simply not willing to spend longer than 15 minutes commuting unless I’m also getting my exercise out of the way.

I’m considering a Plan C: Set out at six or seven in the morning, and schedule everything in my day to occur before 3:30 in the afternoon; ride home when it’s still light out.


At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday the same thing happened between a bus driver and a would-be passenger at the Willow Creek station. And they wonder why more people don't ride.


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