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.

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