28 July 2008

"B" is for bus

Just checking in. See today's image for a list of 'b' words that describe bus rides lately. Heart-stopping, adrenaline-pushing events are not necessary, but the quiet and calm of recent trips provides nothing to observe and upon which to comment. As fuel prices leveled off, and even declined a bit, the rush of eager new riders subsided; I knew that eventually people would adjust their spending habits to accommodate the weekly trip to the gas station. No new shoes for the baby, hon - we gotta buy gas!

Oh well, it is summer in Arizona and as July moves into August, lots of people take out-of-state vacays, seeking relief from the pressing heat. No one's around to ride the bus and brighten my blog.

14 July 2008

Tap - The Conclusion

When last I wrote, I hoped to resolve the tap issue on the bus ride home. An epidemic of farebox flu must have swept the fleet as the farebox orifices were covered with duct tape. Leaving for Georgia the next day, my research went on hold until this morning.

Took the 7:57AM 81N today and when I got on the bus, I "tapped" the flat side of my pass against the orange reader and, as expected, nothing happened. I then put it flat against the reader and held it for a count of 3. The green light went yellow, 1, 2, 3, then went back to green and the all clear sounded. I feel vindicated - absolutely no tapping occurred. The reader required a full scale laying on of the card to assess and accept my pass.

Thus ends my whine about the instructions printed on the back of my bus pass. Oh well, with summer heat, a paucity of riders, even lighter traffic, I needed something, buswise, over which to grind my mind.

08 July 2008

Tap - Part II

this is the 81N . . .

The bus pass tapping experiment took a setback last night by a broken fare box. All geared up today to continue the tapping procedure, much to my surprise the 7:57AM 81N ride takes place on a Valley Metro disabled rider van! No fare box, no tapping, but what an interesting ride.

The van turned into the pullout, the door opened and I asked if this was the 81N - the driver confirmed and I boarded. There were 5 double seats toward the rear and a big open space in front for a wheelchair and the ramp. Three other people occupied seats and I took #4. While the seat felt much better than the usual bus seat, the shocks clearly needed replacement. Everywhere we stopped, the driver had to open the door, and yell out at the people - "this is the 81N!" He overshot one stop where an ASU student (regular rider) waited. He hit the horn several times, but ipod buds filled her ears and she probably couldn't really hear. The driver didn't want to continue, but seemed reluctant to put the van in park and go outside to fetch the girl. Finally, a rider in the left front seat got out and yelled back at the girl, "this is the 81N!" The trend continued and the van quickly became SRO. ASU was the destination of choice for almost everyone, so the van stayed full all the way to College and University.

Good humor prevailed and the driver received a "thank you" from each of us as we got off. The riding quirks like this make public transportation so interesting.

Will check out the bus pass tap tonight.

07 July 2008

Tap - Part I

Took a few vacation days while some of the fam visited. Nice to see them and bet they're happy to be out of our 110+ degree heat. I go to Georgia for a few days this week, so should enjoy lower temps but much higher humidity - valid arguments exist in favor of dry heat.

Got my new bus psss - no longer free, but at $260 a year, sure beats the cost of a parking permit (~$800 annually) plus the cost of fuel. They take $10 each pay and that makes it even better - the sum total of my involvement includes an annual trip to Parking & Transit services to renew the precious little piece of plastic.

The pass bears no magnetic strip and instructions on the back say to "tap" the card against the reader on the bus. When I boarded today, I tapped the side of the card on the top of the reader (orange rectangle in the image) and nothing happened. I re-tapped and the driver said, "No, you need to put it flat." I placed the card flat against the orange rectangle, the light turned green and the happy accept beep sounded. So, what about laying the card flat makes it a "tap"???

Admittedly, there exists an OCD part of me that possibly literally interprets operating instructions to excess; however, shouldn't instructions match the action to which they refer? Tap it means lay it flat? I don't get it.

To ease my tortured mind, tomorrow I will attempt a "flat tap" and see if it results in a successful boarding. Perhaps a slow deliberate laying of the card on the reader is unnecessary, that a quick, flat slap will produce the desired results.

Stay tuned.