It’s been an interesting week of random transit-ry, and there’s still a day and a half left.
- I had a really bad Tuesday – there’s a story, but this unpleasant experience meant I rode transit for about three hours that day, and I managed to pay forward two happy incidents: I chatted up someone new to the city who was going to Maple Ridge to work; and I connected with someone who was reading Love is the Killer App (the author of which I met in Toronto thanks to some crazy connecting). It was a good reminder that the opportunity to be awesome is always around.
- The latest Buzzer includes a standard blurb about riders taking off backpacks when it’s standing-room only peak times. While I agree with the request in principal, it is also a bandaid solution that does nothing to address the legitimate concerns that riders have (such as not wanting to put the bag on the floor strewn with dirt and rainwater, or having trouble balancing while standing). My participation in Toronto Transit Camp means that I saw the presentation of the design slammers working on bus and train design, and it begs the question: why aren’t we talking to bus manufacturers and designers about the problems actually faced by riders in this system, such as students with backpacks weighing about as much as bowling balls knocking over fellow students like pins? A hook system? More luggage racks? More innovation (or bus capacity), not nagging, kthx.
- My friend Ryan pointed out this wonderful article to me in the Ottawa Metro newspaper about that perennial problem of passengers not moving to the backs of buses (it features a quote from a mutual friend as well). The article even touches on aspects of the bus design that discourage people from moving to the very back, as well as the behaviour of passengers themselves that make things interesting. Either way, drivers end up mistakenly passing up passengers waiting for buses at stops in the mistaken belief that their buses are full. Surely there’s got to be a mathematician somewhere figuring out the optimum seating arrangement so that people getting off at stops between major intersections don’t end up bottlenecking the passageway for the rest of us. (But maybe there isn’t.)
I laugh, of course, because just yesterday I tweeted, “The please move to the rear message is begging to be looped and remixed,” referring to the automated stop annunciators in Vancouver being pre-programmed with a request to move to the back of the bus, which I heard for only the second time going home yesterday. I snicker at the vision of a bus driver jabbing the button in order to make the message play six times in twenty seconds. I wonder, is this how the annuncators are used in Toronto? Is it simply a case of the driver not forgetting to say it? It’s a little disconcerting, in my view, that the drivers are able to be disconnected from even that small part of their role, and dehumanizing as a passenger. If you wanted me and my stuff compressed on a wooden pallet, just say so.