Sunday, September 28, 2008

BUS STORY # 101 (The Annunciator And The Driver)

I sent a suggestion to ABQRide a few weeks ago asking if they could announce other bus routes when at intersections, and when the hours of service were and approximate fr[e]quency. So, for example, when the Lomas bus came to San Mateo, instead of just saying the street it would also say "Transfer to the 140/141 lines service 6am to 9pm every 15 minutes".— Dave in the September 3, 2008, ABQ Bus Riders Discussions group in DukeCityFix.

Dave was commenting in a discussion about "the annunciator," an automated voice announcing coming bus stops.

Several weeks before this posting, I boarded a Rapid Ride at Wyoming. Sure enough, the driver had turned off the annunciator and was making exactly the kind of announcements Dave was hoping could be programmed into the annunciator.

“Coming up, Central at San Mateo. Connecting routes are 140-141 and 66.”

He didn’t give the schedule frequencies for these routes, and he didn’t tell us what the annunciator would have told us: this stop was “Magic Bus Station at Central and San Mateo.” (No, it is not the station for the Magic Bus. “Magic” refers to “99.5 Magic FM,” the branding for a local radio station with a “contemporary adult” format. Many of the Rapid Ride stops have sponsors, and, lately, most of those sponsors have been local radio stations.)

But our driver didn’t limit himself to the stops or the intersecting routes.

Each time he’d finished taking on a load of passengers, as he was getting ready to pull away from the curb, he asked riders to “please” hold onto the railing if we were not in our seats. “Thank you.”

I doubt there’s a regular rider anywhere that doesn’t have his or her special story about the time the bus pitched them forward or backward or across the aisle when pulling away from a stop with boarders still in the aisles looking for seats.

My story happened out of state. I’d just let go of the overhead rail to take a seat when an abrupt turn spun me across the aisle and slammed me into a compartment wall behind the driver. My ribs were sore for months. So I was probably predisposed to both note and appreciate my ABQ RIDE driver’s solicitousness here.

He had an accent. Maybe Texas, maybe Oklahoma, maybe southeastern New Mexico, for that matter. It was some kind of southern, and I figured that’s where the “please” came from. The word itself, that is. I believe the emphasis he put on that word was uniquely his own.

He made other announcements as well. When pulling into a stop, he’d rotate a reminder to “please” check to be sure we had all our belongings and have a good day with “please” watch our step when exiting the bus and have a good day.

I did everything he advised me to do and, sure enough, I had a good day.


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