Monthly Archives: May 2012

Keep digging

There’s a rather sad story here about a particularly stupid bus driver who just kept on digging himself deeper and deeper into a problem unitl there was no way out. It started very simply when he, incorrectly, claimed that the passenger’s concessionary bus pass wasn’t valid at the current time. The passenger then explained that the rules changed in April, most driver’s would begin to think “Am I certain what I said is correct?” The next spade full of digging was to switch the engine off and just sit there. Further excavations continued as he tried to enroll the assistance of other passengers to take his side. Having dug yourself in this deeply it would be quite difficult but not impossible to climb out of the hole – be humble, apologetic and hope for the best! But no, this driver was intent on digging his way to a new job in Australia, he refused to speak to First Customer Services who the passenger had got on her mobile phone. Customer Services had to contact the driver’s depot and they in turn radioed the driver to tell him that the customer was correct in what they said. The driver’s hole digging had taken 20 minutes.

Nobody likes to admit they’re wrong, or even possibly wrong, but there are times when you have to swallow pride and let things just pass over you. You don’t hold up a bus for 20 minutes just because you think someone shouldn’t be travelling. You tell the passenger that you believe what you say is correct but will check it with the company when you get back to the depot, then get on with the job of driving the bus.

Public Notice

The Public Notices in my local newspaper usually related to insolvency, planning applications etc. Today there’s a bit of a surprise Public Notice, Transport for South Hampshire Better Bus Area Fund has been awarded £4.5 million of Dept. for Transport funding.

Expressions of Interest are invited from bus operators currently operating in South Hampshire who wish to bid to deliver tho following bus enhancements within the period of 1st June 2012-31st march 2014:-
- On Bus Wi-Fi
- Next Stop Audio & Visual Announcements
- LED Lighting
- Internal Bus Refurbishment

The closing date for expressions of interest is 1700 hrs on Friday 1st June 2012. With only 6 working days in which to try and grab a slice of £4.5m I expect there will be lots of “Do not disturb” signs on bus company management doors.

NYC MTA

That’s the New York City Mass Transit Authority which runs bus and subway services within New York. The bus service operates in all five boroughs of New York City, employing over 4300 buses on 219 routes. The subway network is the 7th largest in the world with over 400 stations and 209 miles of routes.

The cost of access to this vast network? $29 (GBP£17.90) for a 7 day unlimited use Metrocard. Of course you don’t have to buy a weekly ticket, individual rides cost $2.25 (GBP£1.39) each and allow transfers between train and buses. Although we were only there for 6 days the weekly ticket offered us the best value even though we didn’t use one day of its validity. Anyway we did our utmost to get full value and probably made a total of around 30-40 subway and bus journeys.

The subway is easy to understand and use, the only slight drawback is that in Manhattan most lines run north south which limits things when you want to cross east west. Although we had a subway station about 5 minutes walk from our hotel in Queens we usually used the bus even though it took a little longer. I think you feel more ‘local’ when you travel by bus :-) A few interesting things about the bus. Firstly drivers handle no money, passengers must either put $2.25 in coins into the hopper (exact amount only) or you feed in a Metrocard which is read and then returned to you. Almost without exception the drivers don’t seem to consider that it’s necessary to say ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ to anyone. I didn’t let this defeat me and wished every one of them a Good Morning/Afternoon etc and even managed to get a response a couple of times :-) Up to three children can travel free when accompanied by an adult. Interestingly children are not defined by age but must be less than 44 inches (1.12 metres) in height. Certainly easy to administer if you’ve got a 44 inch mark on the bus wall but a bit unfair on those who are naturally tall for their age.

The bus floors have an unusual floor covering in that it looks littered and dirty while actually it’s clean. On my first bus trip I actually tried to move with my foot some of the markings on the floor because I thought they were bits of rubbish. Here’s a picture of the floor.

Many subway stations are decorated with colourful subway ceramic plaques and tile mosaics. Of these, many take the form of signs, identifying the station’s location. Much of this ceramic work was in place when the subway system originally opened on October 27, 1904.

And finally one method of transport not available with a Metrocard, the space shuttle. It was flown into New York on the back of a NASA Boeing 747 where it will become a museum exhibit. This is the best shot I could get of it from the window of a moving bus as we passed JFK Airport.