Sunday, April 22, 2007

BUS STORY # 29, Part 2 (Takin’ It To The Street)


I wrote a letter to Greg Payne, director of ABQ RIDE. I sent copies to the mayor and my city councilman. I told them all about the trials and tribulations the new schedule was causing us east-of-Tramway Lomas bus riders. I didn’t yell or threaten or plead or whine. I just explained a number of us wanted to use public transportation and had done our best to accommodate the new schedule, but it just wasn’t working out. I provided three pages of personal experiences. I closed with the suggestion that ABQ RIDE restore the old schedule, at least during the commuting times.

A week later, the 6:11 a.m. bus didn’t show up. When Abel arrived to catch the 6:45 a.m., he said in all his eight years of riding, he’d never seen the bus not show. “They must have gotten your letter yesterday,” he quipped.

The following day, I got a personal response. Greg Payne acknowledged my frustration, reaffirmed his commitment to making bus service work for all of us, and announced the old No. 11 schedule would be restored at the end of April. I read that last part again: the old No. 11 schedule would be restored at the end of April. Incredible.

I’m not foolish enough to believe my letter made this happen. There must have been a busload of emails and phone calls and letters from other riders as well. Still, I was astonished by the response.

I was in Boston early last month and caught Mike Daisey at the Zero Arrow Theater doing a monologue on, among other things, a history of the New York City subway system. He described how the board meets to listen to public input on MTA policies and schedules, current and under consideration. Afterwards, they retire to a boardroom and make the decisions they’d already decided on before the public meeting.

This is how I understand government works. So, naturally, Greg Payne’s letter was a disillusioning experience.

Fortunately, I had my faith restored just a few days ago. A rumor was sweeping through the ridership that the real reason the schedule was changed in the first place was because a personal friend of the mayor’s had leaned on Hizzonor to do something about getting the bus out of the neighborhood. The mayor in turn leaned on Payne. Payne in turn changed the schedule. That would put my co-worker, the ex-New York City cop, right on the money.

That is, if it’s true.

The truth is, I don’t want to find out otherwise. It’s become fashionable to debunk every truth we hold sacred, and there is no truth more sacred than city hall is about favoritism and shenanigans. Frankly, I’m getting grumpy about all this debunking business. But now I’m left with explaining why the city changed the schedule back again. I can‘t seem to find any other reasonable explanation than responsiveness to public input. Imagine that!

I’m looking forward to sleeping in another 15 minutes, and to leaving work when I’m done. I’m looking forward to feeling relieved of the stress of making my connections. I’m looking forward to talking to the regulars about something besides the schedule. I’m looking forward to being on the lookout for bus stories. Once again, I’m looking forward to taking the bus.

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