Another tale of riding the buses

On an unusually-uncrowded H bus, I noticed an old Asian man in the bus's sideways seat pull his face-mask down, for access to his nose. For his entire ride he dug deep inside, and several times wiped whatever he'd mined onto the handrail beside him.

A few blocks after he stepped off, a pretty white girl sat in the same seat, with her hand gripping the same spot on the same handrail.

That's one of the things I like about public transit. It's something we all share, not just the ride but the space, and everything in it.

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Nobody wants a bum to have a moment's comfort, so bus stops rarely have benches. If there is a bench it'll be designed for discomfort — made of metal, barely wide enough for a child's ass.

Idiots say the cliché, "We can't have nice things," and blame the lack of benches on the bums. Bums aren't the problem, idiots. The problem is the Republicans, nickel-and-diming and never taxing the rich and always hating the bums, making sure that anything to help the poor is underfunded, hard to get, and meager if you can somehow qualify.

You want fewer bums? Elect fewer Republicans.

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Because of public transit's well-earned reputation for bums and crazies, and greatly exaggerated rumors of violence, most people don't even consider riding the bus. To counteract that, transit agencies should have better security, and some amenities to make waiting for the bus feel less like waiting for death.

But they don't, because the agencies aren't run by people who care about transit. They're run by dullards, same as any other bureaucracy.

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For example, at either of the two big transit centers where I frequently wait for a bus, since we can't have benches (see above), they've thoughtfully erected diagonally-slanted butt-bars for leaning against. They're like the one in this picture, only with more litter on the ground.

Not as nice as sitting down, but it's gotta be better than standing, right? 

Wrong. At Metro's bus stations, the butt-bars face the wrong way — away from oncoming buses. Lean on a butt-bar, buses approach from behind you, and you'll miss your bus. So nobody leans on the butt-bars.

There's no reason the butt-bars couldn't have been aligned so you could see buses while you're leaning. Why did Metro waste the money buying and installing butt-bars aligned the wrong way? Because the people in charge are dullards, and they never ride the bus.

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Metro Transit has a form on their website for comments and complaints, so I asked about the misaligned butt-bars — in July, and again in November. No response yet, and no response expected.



  1. Good observations, I was hoping you would gallantly jump up and tell the girl about the boogers, but what's a few boogs between friends. Hey Cranky can I have another guest post? It's called The Bate Master and I just emailed it to you, what do you think?...Eel (Byline okay if yes)

    1. That's a story I remember and liked. Happy to run it, probably tomorrow. Thanks!

  2. Doug, your bus stories evoked a memory. Employees of any transit system generally ride anywhere in the system for free. Through the 50s and into the 60s, every driver and every HQ worker carried a switch key on their keyring, because that's what you showed the driver to get on the bus for free. The last switchable rails in the system must have been ripped out right before or after WWII, but everybody was issued a switch key into the 60s.

    After that, everybody got a laminated ID card, which isn't nearly as cool as a switch key.

    My Dad died in 2009 at 92, and we had asked him to stop driving a couple of years before that, so he only carried the room key to his assisted living apartment. Somewhere along the way, his keyring vanished and, along with it, the switch key he carried as long as he drove which I would love to have on my keyring today. I don't need artifacts to remind me of my dad. I think of him often. But it would be fun to carry that switch key and flash it at a driver next time I ride the bus.


    1. I wonder if any of the drivers would know a switch key if they saw one. I Googled to see what one looked like, and came up basically blank. What did it look like? Wonder if you could buy one somewhere on-line...

      When I briefly/almost drove for Metro Access last summer, I sure wish I could've gotten the key they give every driver now — it unlocks the drivers-only restrooms scattered all across the county as bus stations and park'n'rides. The public gets nowhere to pee, but drivers get a key.


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