Sunday, October 09, 2011

BUS STORY # 257 (Out Of Gas)

Yale Transit Facility
Yale Transit Facility, a photo by busboy4 on Flickr.


I’ve just boarded the first bus home. It goes about 80 yards, then dies.

The driver gets on the phone. She has to call someone else to get her to the dispatcher. When she gets in, she reports her route, her location, then says, “I’m out of gas.”

There are five of us hanging on her every word. But the only other thing we hear is “OK.” Then she hangs up.

We sit there for a minute.

A rider at the front asks, “They gonna come rescue us?”

She says yes.

Another minute goes by.

“How long that gonna be?”

She replies “The Transit Center’s just down the road.”

Another minute goes by.

The guy asking the questions gets up and asks if she’ll open the door for him.

When she does, I get up, too, and head for the front.

I touch her on the shoulder and say, “I’ll race you to Central.”

She laughs, but she still looks troubled about what’s happened.

It’s two miles to Central.

The schedule suggests the bus can travel this route in 11 minutes. But that doesn’t take into account the huge group that boards near the community center this time of day, or the Lead/Coal street repair project. That 11 minutes is gonna be more like 20 minutes.

And that’s after the bus gets here.

And the bus isn’t gonna get here until after it leaves the terminal, assuming ABQ RIDE is really gonna send another bus rather than just wait another 30 minutes till the next bus comes around.

I can walk from here to Central in 30 minutes.

So I’m pretty sure I’m gonna win that race with my driver.

I think about how it is a bus can run out of gas. Seems like maybe somebody didn’t check something before this bus went out this morning.

It’s a 300, which means it uses compressed natural gas. Maybe it’s more difficult to gauge the fuel with CNS.

Or maybe they can’t “top off” the tank, and it’s cheaper to run it till it’s empty. That’s pretty much how my wife and I run our gas-fired grill. It doesn’t happen very often, but sometime every summer, we end up with raw hamburger patties on the grill instead of those green chile cheeseburgers we had our mouths set for.

Maybe today, me and the other four riders are raw hamburger.

It takes me about 20 minutes to get to the Transit Facility. In that time, I haven’t seen any southbound buses. At the center, all the terminal doors are open, and I see three buses in their respective lanes ready to go...for in the morning. No lights, no drivers.

Uh huh, I think to myself. Nobody wants to send out a bus that’s already been prepped for the next day. The next one out on the route will have to do. It’s just 30 minutes...

I snap a picture of the terminal.

As soon as I finish, I see a 300 entering a fourth lane from the back. But it doesn’t stop at the front with the other three buses. It pulls out and turns south. The route signage in the front is out, and when it turns into the street, there’s no route number light in the back.

I believe I’m gonna have to eat some crow here.

But the race is still no contest. When I get to Central and look back, all I see is a long line of cars and trucks and a couple of red and white UNM school buses.

I call my wife and let her know I’ll be late for dinner.

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