Monday, May 26, 2008

#401 Top of the Bus

#401 Top of the Bus

There's an old Manhattan joke: "Should we walk, or do we have time to take the bus?" Tribute to the slowness of midtown traffic, there.

There's no mode of transportation that's as uncomfortable, gawky, slow moving and annoying as a bus. But that wasn't always so. Only starting in 1953. That's when the then-privately-owned Fifth Avenue Coach Company took its last double-decker off the street. Ten years later, Fifth Avenue Coach went bust and the state took over the routes.

Apparently, the lovely two-story monsters coming back. The single most elegant mode of transportation next to the horse-drawn coach. So much so, that their fares were double that of the more pedestrian modes of locomotion. Ten cents, compared with a nickel.

Some elementary school kids read an item in the paper, said you could tip those big buses over. Maybe. We tried, though and couldn't.

On the upper deck, you could sit right over the driver and pretend YOU were the driver. And you could see all the way up or all the way down (note to young people: 5th was a two way street until 1966.)

It was romantic. It was fun. It was interesting. It worked. People loved it. Therefore, let's kill it.

There was a brief comeback attempt about 30 or 35 years ago. It failed because they did it wrong.

Eventually, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority figured out it need more passenger space. So they made those extra long buses with the accordion dividing the front and the back. Great. Takes up twice the room, break every five hundred miles and are hideous.

Some genius figured out that a double decker doesn't take up as much as road room as a bus that is twice normal length and conjoined by a device on which you can clear the tables of a night club by playing "Lady of Spain," but not much else.

The seats on the new buses, you can be sure, will not be leather. The windows will not open. The air conditioning will be labored. Ah, but the view!

Probably we won't have a two-man crew like the originals, a driver and a conductor. Probably will have seat belts, especially on the upper deck.

These are the REAL tall ships of New York. May even make you forget that walking is faster.


--Big oil should take a tip from big telecom and the airlines. Don't raise prices, charge fees. Who'll care if you have to pay an extra few cents per gallon to use the pump hose, get a receipt, and listen to the awful canned music they play over the loudspeakers?

--The price of gasoline is so high, they're going to start selling it by the glass. Bartender, gimme an unleaded regular on the rocks. And I want extra olives.

--In tune with the times, ExxonMobil is changing its name to Tiffany. Fine name for a luxury item. Or a transvestite hooker at the Lincoln Tunnel.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR

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