Transit Siege

On a recent bus-ride I was frustrated by a common habit that public transit users have.

I live near a rapid transit hub where bus routes tend to start and end. It means that often buses leaving the hub are filled to capacity — meaning that there are many folks standing in the bus, even outside of “rush hour“. This also occurs for buses heading into the hub, having picked up many people with the common destination of the transit hub.

PASSENGERS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, WAITING FOR TH...

PASSENGERS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, WAITING FOR THEIR METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA) BUS DURING RUSH HOUR. RIDERSHIP INCREASED 27 PERCENT FROM 1970 TO 1974 WHEN IT REACHED 73,727,000 PASSENGERS. THE INCREASE OCCURRED FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS, INCLUDING NEW BUSES, NEW ROUTES, NIGHT SERVICE 100-PASSENGER WAITING SHELTERS (SEE PHOTO), FRINGE PARKING AND A DECREASE IN FARE FROM 40 TO 15 CENTS, 06/1974 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is fair enough, it means that public transit on those routes are at capacity. With that much popularity, it is more likely that there will be increases in frequency on the bus route and perhaps added routes.

The bad habit I have found that standing passengers have is that they all want to stand in the doorway of the bus. That means standing in the area in front of the back doorways or standing up close to the driver. I have in the past ridden standing by the rear doorway of the bus. You can lean against a partition there on either side of the door. That makes for a more comfortable ride while standing. Standing near the front doors or the back, makes it so that you have to squeeze past fewer people when you reach your stop.

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID ...

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA) BUS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA. IN 1974 THE SYSTEM… – NARA – 556797 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This causes a few problems.

One problem is that there is always a crowd standing by the exits that you have to squeeze through. Often at the rear doors I have seen commuters step out of the bus to allow someone off. That would be unnecessary if people weren’t nesting in the door well. This is after having squeezed past other standing commuters.

The other problem is that with all the people wanting to stand at the front of the bus, it makes it so that fewer passengers can ride. There is no room for people to squeeze into the front entrance of the bus. There might be plenty of room at the back of the bus, but no way for an entering commuter to reach it. It might even be hard for the driver to see that the back third of the bus is still available.

That means that people are left behind at the stop.

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID ...

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA) BUS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA. IN 1974 THE SYSTEM… – NARA – 556795 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drivers in the past would request that passengers move to the rear of the bus, but I haven’t heard that request of late. I think it has to do with potential aggressive behaviour by some unstable riders. Some at least still request that people vacate the front seats that are reserved for the disabled, seniors, and adults with baby strollers.

A solution… perhaps education… but, the heart is perhaps a growing lack of consideration on the part of transit users. Sometimes, perhaps education might work on people that are at heart considerate. The are the folks who didn’t realize that their actions were inconsiderate. But it seems that there many who don’t care so long as their needs are met.

English: The Toronto Transit Commission's CLRV...

English: The Toronto Transit Commission’s CLRVs #4049 and #4090 travel east on King Street East while serving the 504 King streetcar route during morning rush hour. The first car is routed to short turn at Parliament Street while the second will continue to the route’s eastern terminus at Broadview Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A need for fewer standing commuters is probably another, albeit more expensive solution.

I know on some routes, in particular the “BLine” bus routes, passengers are allowed to both alight and depart via all doors unless they actually have to pay at that stop. Meaning if they already have a valid fare receipt or a bus pass they can enter at any door. If they have to pay cash or initiate a fair-saving ticket they still have to board up front.

Still I think standing commuters will tend to nest by the doors.

I hope the street-level light rapid transit comes soon on the busiest routes. (The modern versions of “streetcars” are returning in major cities.)

I hope you consider other passengers when you travel public transit!

DWPenner

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