Sunday, February 21, 2010

BUS STORY # 172 (Maddie’s Bus Story # 1)

The 16/18, originally uploaded by busboy4.

Maddie* waves to me when she boards the bus, just like she always does. Maddie’s been a regular since before I even thought about taking the bus.

She takes a seat and unfolds the Albuquerque Journal, just like she always does.

A couple of stops later, she gets up and goes to talk to the driver. When she returns, she gives me a shrug and a look that says, “So much for that.”

I move to the seat behind her and ask what’s going on.

She tells me she asked the driver if he could radio ahead and remind the driver of the 16/18 that she and Ralph* would be making the connection at University this morning.

Maddie explains that the connection is always tight. When she first made the transition, it was not uncommon for her to arrive at the connection just in time to see the 16/18 just pulling away – sometimes after they’d already gotten off the 11 and were trying to catch it. She’s had good luck persuading the drivers to wait for her and/or Ralph.

Until now.

She tells me the driver who has the route on Monday, Tuesday and Friday of this three-month rotation is not happy about having to wait for them. He tells them they should be taking the Red Line at Louisiana and transferring to the 50. They tell him the 50 doesn’t get them as close to work and as early as the 16/18 does.

I ask Maddie how long the 16/18 has to wait on them. She says two, maybe three minutes at the most. But he makes it up. Still, he’s grumpy about it, explaining he has nine minutes to get through seven stops to stay on schedule, and this waiting business adds to the pressure.

I’m sympathetic to both the driver and the riders here. The Red Line solution would mean two connections with a total of 20 minutes of standing-around time, and would put Maddie and Ralph farther away from the front door and later for work.

On the other hand, I am all for any driver with a firm commitment to keeping on schedule.

We’re looking at a couple of things here.

One is the age-old conflict between trying to do your job the way it’s supposed to be done and trying to accommodate your customers which is what your job is supposed to be all about. We’ve all been there – on both sides.

The other thing is that we’re a small city, with the typical small city barriers to providing quickly available public transportation. We simply don’t have the resources or the rider base to implement more frequent service with more timely connections. Increase the 16/18 to run every 15 or 20 minutes rather than every 45 and maybe a few riders’ connection problems might disappear. But you also are likely to have a lot of empty or near-empty buses running the route – unless the increased frequency made the 16/18 a more viable option for more riders who would then start taking the 16/18. (“If you build it . . . ”) In either case, though, the resources diverted to increasing the frequency would have to come from somewhere else.

If it were me, I’d defer to the driver here – at least on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. And, with the three month driver rotation system, this could be a non-issue by late spring.

*Real name changed.

Local riders might be interested in John’s proposal for improving the 16/18. Here’s a link to his proposal at the DukeCityFix ABQ Bus Riders Forum:


Blogger Eve.E.B. said...

Aw I like this story! Wish buses did wait for people specially me! I am always late cause I tend to always arrive a minute to late :(

3:35 PM  
Blogger Sarah Wecker said...

LOVE your blog and writing. What a wonderful idea! Definitely something I will keep reading.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you both for your kind words.

7:41 AM  

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