26 March 2009

unusual ride

Night before last we enjoyed an unusual ride home. My co-worker, Jim, and I arrived at the Tempe Transportation Center, 66S shelter, about 5 minutes prior to the scheduled bus arrival. We waited, and we waited, and we waited. We watched as 2nd, 3rd and even 4th versions of other buses came and went, but no 66S. Noticing a transportation supervisor, we approached him to ask the status of our bus. At 15 minutes late and counting, we wondered if we missed the 4:44 or if traffic had things backed up. As we walked over, the supervisor asked if anyone was waiting for the 66. We acknowledged that we wanted it and he apologized, pointing behind us to Stadium Drive and a bus - the 66S (star #1 on map). Apparently, the driver got confused and didn't enter the transportation center drive, so we didn't know or see the bus sitting there. We boarded and things went from odd to unusual. The usual route (purple on the map) takes the 66 out of the trans center, east on Stadium, then south on College, then west on University, then south on Mill. Stops occur on University and Mill that usually generate quite a few riders.

Since the bus faced the wrong direction on Stadium, we didn't expect her to whip a u-turn; however, it seemed she could go up and through the trans center to get herself back on track. Instead, she went west on Stadium/5th St, then left on Mill (red route on the map). By ignoring University, she abandoned riders at 2 stops. While traveling south on Mill, she did stop at 6th St and, amazingly, a woman got on the bus. The woman came to the back, sat down, and Jim asked if she wanted the 66. We all knew she didn't since the 66 never stops there. She said, “no, isn't this the 65? I want the 65.” Jim told her it was the 66, then yelled up at the bus driver that we had a wrong passenger. The driver made another unscheduled stop at 7th St, discharged the disgruntled woman, then proceeded south on Mill, driving past the bus stop in front of the CVS pharmacy at the corner of Mill and University, where the 66 usually picks up numerous passengers.

The driver yelled at us for telling her about the incorrect passenger and each time she approached a stop (legal or otherwise) she hit the horn. In 3 years of bus riding, I never experienced a driver blowing the horn when approaching a stop. Once she blew past the CVS stop, things settled down a bit and I think she only had one more stop near-miss. While not quite as fun as the time the substitute driver and I took the residential detour, this ride presented a variety of experiences for a 26 minute ride.

24 March 2009


Rode the 8:36am 66N again. SRO occurred, mostly due to an electric wheelchair that boarded the bus at Rural and Baseline. The big event of the day involves my big mouth. About halfway through the trip, a young woman got on the bus with a very unusual hairstyle. At first I thought she wore feathers, then it seemed more like bad bed hair, gathered on top of her head. She reminded me of a character, Honey, in the movie, Notting Hill. A bit later in the ride, I looked over and noted her reading allure magazine - quite a disconnect considering the hairstyle. Rolling Stone or Mother Jones, perhaps — definitely not allure.

The driver missed the stop and much hustle and bustle ensued when she finally did bring the bus to a halt. I got off along with Jim, my neighbor and co-worker, and as we walked toward our building, I asked if he saw the girl on the bus with the unusual hair. That didn't clue him in, so I described a bit and he remembered. I proceeded to comment about her reading allure magazine when, she suddenly walked past us, turned, smiled and said, "that's me!" How desperately I wanted an invisibility cloak at that moment. All my preaching about good manners and civility! How could I display such impolite and discourteous behavior! Jim nicely tried to help cover with a comment about the unusually early trash pickup, but too late - the words lingered in the air and my feet filled my mouth.

Lessons learned — need to keep my observations to myself or at least look behind me before I speak. Bad karma start to the day.

17 March 2009


Took the 8:38 AM 66N again today. Yesterday's passenger count bordered on the slim-to-none; but today we enjoyed a full house (bus). Guess lots of folks added Monday to their spring break days. Today belongs to St Patrick but few passengers sported green garments. One woman wearing a green sweater did, however, leave a not-so-Happy-St-Patrick's-Day impression.

She boarded the bus, cellphone mashed against her ear. To her credit, she realized she couldn't put money in the farebox and talk at the same time, so she told the person on the other end of the line (cell?) that she needed to hang up and would call back “in a minute”. Fare paid, she plopped down on the front seat, placing a large purse on her right and a softside lunch bag on her left. An older gentleman already occupied part of the seat and she managed to fill the remains. While not huge seats, 3 people can fit and she, and her paraphernalia, took up space for 2. Once ensconced, she flipped open the cell phone and resumed the conversation. Holding a big coffee mug, she crossed one leg over the other (blocking the aisle), sat back and settled in for a fine chat.

The bus kept stopping, more passengers boarded and the aisle filled. This woman remained oblivious to her surroundings and, even after ending her phone conversation, did nothing to make more room on the seat for anyone currently standing. I understand some people have personal space issues and don't like getting 'too close', but for a short bus ride - give me a break! This age of rude, narcissistic, self-absorbed people gets more and more tiresome. We need Miss Manners!

16 March 2009

Feet are made for walking

MFebber here, still using public transport, just not writing recently. Between work angst, family moves and spring allergies, blogging took a back seat. Most of all, the route/schedule changes from the light rail opening had me trying different transport combos to see what fit best. The irregular schedule and change kept me off-balance and messed with the writing rhythm. Settled down to regular 66 riding, so hopefully regular writing returns, too.

Two young high school aged girls preceded my arrival at the stop this morning. They danced around, talking and laughing in that inimitable loud, screaming teen fashion - an amazing display of energy so early in the morning. The bus arrived, everyone boarded and I wondered at the two girls' destination - Marcos de Niza High School, one-half mile west on Guadalupe; or, Tempe Union High School, about 5 miles distant at Mill and Broadway. After we passed the next stop, they rang the bell and departed at Marcos de Niza.

Not to complain, but why didn't they walk the rest of the way to school? They made it to the bus stop from somewhere and only needed to perambulate one more half-mile - 2,640 feet, 880 yards, twice around the track! Laughing and talking, they would have been oblivious to the passage of time and distance. Sadly, kids today don't seem to consider foot travel as transportation. They did take the bus, which beats door-to-door in a car, but such a beautiful morning, 60 degrees, sunshine - and they waited and rode the bus for a half mile. Saving their feet for dancing, I suppose.