Friday, April 07, 2006

Too Bus-y To Do Anything About It

Scene:
Oak Grove bus stop.
A mild mannered T bus approaches.
Eager commuters crane their necks to catch a glimpse of the bus route on the LED sign.
Not surprisingly, the sign is all wacky, and there is a nice white sheet of paper taped to the windshield with the route number on it.
For the first time ever, the sign is not written with a sharpie, but is printed from a computer.
What's this? Route 101? But that goes from Malden Ctr. to Sullivan Square.
Oh, I see, the side LED sign has the correct route number on it.
But wait, there is also a paper 101 sign below the LED.
What is going on?
So I step onto the bus (#0250) and ask the driver if this is indeed going where I want to be.
Yeah, comes the surly reply, it's on the side sign.
But, pointing to sign on the front window, you know this says '101', right?
Yeah, and the side sign says the correct route.
But, there is also a '101' sign underneath, so which is it?
It's 'XXX'!
Oh. why don't you take down the paper signs then?
Well what if they switch this bus to the other route?
Oh-Kay.

Since the bus was stopping at a T stop, they tend to wait for a load of people to board, so it wasn't that big a deal. However, when a bus is coming at you at 40 MPH, and you're waiting on the curb at a bus stop, you look at the front window.
If the route displayed is not the one you want, you generally step back, and the driver knows to keep on going past you.
Now if you had stepped back from this bus, there is no way you could see the side LED, with the correct route, until the bus almost ran you down.
By that point, you've missed the bus.

1 comment:

BradMalden said...

The early-morning buses often leave Forest Hills with no destination on the LCD sign. I was told that on the new buses, the LCD signs are hooked into the vehicle's GPS computer, which doesn't work if the bus is in a station when the sign is turned on.

This happens every morning, and even I know they should program the sign before entering the station.

I suggested that and the "Sharpie-on-cardboard" solutions and the dispatcher just smiled at me.

Asking the driver where the bus goes generally gets a blank stare in return, but if you ask a yes/no question like "Is this the 32?" you will get an answer.