Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mass Transit

#272a Mass Transit

The local mass transit system here in Moote Pointe, PA, just got a bucket full of money to spend. Here’s a suggestion: conduct random rump tests.

Then, compare the results with the size of what passes for seats in your buses. And when you spend that bucket full of money on new rolling stock, consider making the measurements closer than they are now.

This small seat thing started in the New York City Subway system when the cars were designed and built in Japan. The average Japanese derriere is considerably smaller than that of the average New Yorker. It’s no fun seeing the big Mamas and Papas get on the #1 Train at 125th street and try to squish themselves into those seats.

When the skinny kids get on the subway, they take up two seats, too – but that’s just claiming personal space.

New York, as usual, started a trend. Small seats. They don’t work there, and they don’t work here.

Another suggestion: try aligning the schedule with the movement of buses. That would be a big help. Although it’s possible they arrive and leave early on purpose because it’s endlessly amusing to watch your rearview mirror as passengers try to catch you, and you roll away, pedal to the metal.

The drivers meet in the Driver’s Lounge each day and swap stories about who they made chase them today. Then, at the end of the month, there’s a prize for the best story. Last month it was a little old lady in a walker, who went tearing after an earlier-than-scheduled bus, tripped, and her upper plate fell and rolled into a storm drain when she fell. That one might get “story of the year.”

This very morning, a young couple was smooching at a bus shelter, and the driver made a wide turn and didn’t stop. Jokes on the distracted couple. At least usually. But this couple was different. They’re track team and they caught the thing at the next stop. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all.

The Bus Authority is going to put global positioning systems on all their vehicles. Then it’s going to put the GPS signals on an internet map of the town so everyone can see exactly where every bus is – and how close it is to your stop.

Great idea. Expensive. But a great idea. Gives riders that Military Science and Tactics course they missed when the peaceniks got the Pentagon to stop ROTC programs.

But those fun-loving drivers will find a way to retaliate. Perhaps they can adjust the GPS transmitters to show false positives. Or, when they roll up to a stop, they can flash on those famed “Out of Service” signs that most of them sport most of the time.

To their great credit, though, the Authority uses a lot of buses that run on natural gas (unnatural gas would be a gas.) Of course, they’re environmentally correct, and doing conspicuous good. (The nouveau goode are the new nouveau riche.) Plus, someone’s brother-in-law probably owns the gas company.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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