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

One of Our Chairs is Missing!

English: Lightning over St-Laurent River by a ...

English: Lightning over St-Laurent River by a stormy night in Quebec. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a dark and stormy night, you’re car’s stopped working and the storm is too severe to even consider walking. What do you do?

For most it is a simple call with their cellphone and help is on it’s way.

There is a certain arm of society that face something like that even on warm Spring days. Consider life in a wheelchair.

English: Controller of electric-powered wheelc...

English: Controller of electric-powered wheelchair Belize. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wheelchairs are intended to be very dependable. Perhaps that explains why a manual wheelchair can cost more than a decent bicycle. However there is more to go wrong in an electric wheelchair. It can be merely an inconvenience for someone in a care facility of some sort, so long as there’s always someone attending.

However the people I know that are in electric “chairs” are not homebodies. They want to get out in the world and that can mean travelling blocks or even miles from home to go shopping, sightseeing, to medical appointments, to visit friends, etc.

English: Wheelchair brake (scissors)

English: Wheelchair brake (scissors) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While some might be able to crawl to someone’s doorstep and ask for health, there are others that do not even have that option. It’s not like they have the option to get out and check the battery cables.

That’s where a cellphone would really come in handy. I’m sure a call or two would bring help if your chair were to fail you and stop operating.

Picture of a Cell Phone

Picture of a Cell Phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know that in many areas, people that are “at risk” or unable to afford one can get a phone with very modest service for emergency calls. Something like that could help many folks who use chairs. But there are also many in chairs that would have problems operating a typical cellphone or smart phone.

I believe there are specialty cellphones with a limited keyboard. I recall one for children that didn’t have a regular numeric keypad, but instead had 6 buttons. Each button was preprogrammed with 6 phone numbers. Perhaps it might be very limiting to have a cellphone that could only dial a half-dozen number — but if you have only one hand you can use and it has only limited function — such a phone could be a godsend.

There are also cellphones with large buttons and basic functions intended for seniors. Not all seniors need them, by any means, but they can be helpful for many.

I believe that some sort of allowance should be made so that those folks requiring an electric wheelchair to function should have a cellphone they can operate for emergency purposes.

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Built-in GPS might be useful, but folks that already have limited privacy might not want there to be a GPS device that could always track them down.

I think we have solutions and some don’t even require any/much special equipment.

While they are at it they can make sure that the chairs have some place to support and hold a cellphone/GPS device so a person could still use it if they had limited dexterity.

DWPenner

 

What’s in a Name?

English: Simulation of dyslexic vision

English: Simulation of dyslexic vision (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many learning disorders, the one most talked about is Dyslexia… or as I would like to say, Lysdexia. (Gee, Google/Wikipedia recognize “lysdexia” and refer it to “dyslexia”!) But there are others and actually Dyslexia has a wider spectrum of symptoms than most might realize. Dyslexia is not just about scrambling letters or numbers so that “the” becomes “het” to the dyslexic’s observation. Or sometimes numbers or letters look backward. It doesn’t matter how careful the word is looked at, it comes out scrambled. It happens often enough to become an issue.

(ed. – Please note that this is not a clinical article about learning disorders so there are likely terms used improperly and similar other issues with it.)

Chalk Board

Chalk Board (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For some the disability doesn’t show often, but for others it is crippling toward their education and learning. It slows reading and can make handwriting torture. For some, the issues that come up with handwriting do not bother them if they are working on a keyboard. For others it is just about universal.

There are other sorts of disorders however that people can have that can hamper learning… and other aspects of life.

Consider having a problem with recalling names. Not just what most people have with forgetting a name that they know, but having problems learning that name in the first place. Names and numbers seem to become hazy mirages in the mind.

(ed. – perhaps this is an aspect of Dyslexia?)

English: A university classroom. (Jones Hall a...

English: A university classroom. (Jones Hall at Princeton University.) © 2005 Joseph Barillari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

History class can become a bit of a nightmare when you can’t remember the dates of events or the names of the people and places involved. It can be very frustrating trying to come up with the answers to history questions… “It was a battle that occurred in a place. But it was fundamental in the formation of a country…”

"they still have phone booths in ak"

“they still have phone booths in ak” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Addresses and phone numbers can become a bit of a maze as well. Forgetting the first half of a phone number before hearing the last half can really get irritating. Back in the days of pay phones, if you needed a number and there was no phone book, directory assistance could help locate the number for you, but if you had no paper or pen, and had that sort of problem with remembering numbers, you were lost. The operator couldn’t (wouldn’t?) dial the number for you, and by the time they told you the last 4 digits of the phone number you’d forget the first three digits.

English: Greensleeves Vinyl:War by Wailing Sou...

English: Greensleeves Vinyl:War by Wailing Souls & Rankin Trevor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having a problem with names and titles can really hamper looking up a song you enjoy. How can you find a song if you couldn’t remember the name of the artist, band, or song title? (Now with modern Internet search engines, you can type in just the part of the lyrics you recall and it can find or suggest the title/artist.) How often might you hear a song and want to look it up so you could purchase it yourself, but be at a loss as to how to locate it… it can even be difficult to realize what recording artists you like simply because you can never recall who sang what with which band.

Having pen and paper handy at all times is a solution, but then you still have to organize your notes so you can find what you are looking for.

…but it is most embarrassing to need months or years to actually learn a new friend’s name.

Not a Glass Act

Recycle-get this...

Recycle-get this… (Photo credit: practicalowl)

We want to make it easier to recycle after all.

You have these big bins that are easy to roll to the street with everything going into just three bins. Everything organic goes into the first bin; metal, plastic, paper, and cardboard go into the second bin; and everything else goes into the third bin. Oh, what was that about glass? Oh, we used to put that in the second bin, but they don’t allow us to do that anymore.

English: glass and plastic (bottles) recycling...

English: glass and plastic (bottles) recycling in Poland Polski: powtórne przetwarzanie szkła i butelek plastikowych – segregacja odpadów (Szymbark, woj. pomorskie) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems that was inconvenient for them. They say it contaminated the paper and plastic. Now they say they want us to keep the glass separate from the other recycling. They say we can take it to special depots at grocery stores and transfer stations. In interviews of a number of people they say it wasn’t so bad in places where they have done it for years. Of course these are people who were depositing their glass in the special bins for glass. They were the people of course who have no problem getting to these special depots.

Recycle for Greater Manchester

Recycle for Greater Manchester (Photo credit: The Laird of Oldham)

Something the bureaucrats forget is that there is a large segment of the population who do not have access to cars — they are the people that take public transit to get places. Of course there are many people taking public transit that have cars at home, but there are many who don’t.

There will always be people who won’t take an extra step to do things. A little extra work and they won’t become involved in a project like recycling — they will just toss the glass bottles and jars into that third bin for general garbage. It’s a shame that many of them actually have cars and it wouldn’t be too much trouble to take a bag of jars and bottles to a recycling depot.

Glass jars

Glass jars (Photo credit: dliban)

On the other hand there will be people that have problems getting to the depots. These people without cars will end up with jars and bottles stacking up; perhaps tossing them into the general garbage bin. Many will be poor people and some of them will be disabled people.

Consider their alternative — washing their garbage and taking it on public transit to a transfer station or recycling depot at the grocery store. Perhaps it’s not too much to take glass bottles and jars back to the grocery store, people already do with their empty bottles — but I know of many people who don’t take back their empty bottles even though there is a deposit on them. Instead they donate them to charity or to people who pick them up off the street.

Oakridge Place Shopping Center, Metairie Road,...

Oakridge Place Shopping Center, Metairie Road, Metairie, Louisiana. Grocery store, view from parking lot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think quite often the bureaucrats that make the decisions forget about the people who don’t have cars. Those bureaucrats probably have their own cars. A few might take public transit, but I believe they’re in the minority and I believe that they have access to cars if they wish.

The problem is more widespread than just this recycling issue. I’ve noticed quite often with parking lot designs that while it seems the designs are good for pedestrians at first glance — this is only true for people coming from parked cars into the establishment. For people coming off the street the design is not quite as good.

You often find the pedestrian entrances to the establishment from the street are less than desirable. As a pedestrian I have often found myself going very far out of my way to get the pedestrian entrance. They are distances that if you were in a car are not very long, however on foot they’re quite large. It all seems geared to people who have parked their cars and are going to the establishment.

Road Construction

Road Construction (Photo credit: ahhyeah)

Shopping centres are just a nuisance. It gets very dangerous sometimes around construction sites. Building construction sites often rip up sidewalks and create large obstacles for pedestrians. They require you to walk on the opposite side of the street from the side that you require. If the city blocks are short and there are pedestrian crossings nearby it is not too bad — however if the blocks are quite long or if not every block has a pedestrian crossing and the street is busy with traffic, it can be not only inconvenient, but dangerous.

Car Park

Car Park (Photo credit: chrisinplymouth)

In fact sometimes they leave no options at all for the pedestrian and they are left to figure out their own way to merge with traffic and get to the destination. Sometimes it’s not too bad on a dry sunny day, but if you get any precipitation the mud, gravel, and water can make for an adventurous walk. And then there are the issues for people who are not on foot. I have seen where they’ve made it nearly impossible — make that impossible for a person in a wheelchair or mobility scooter to pass. For that matter there are people with baby carriages, strollers, and grocery carts. Not everyone drives or rides. Not everyone has two sound feet.

Overloaded baby carriage

Overloaded baby carriage (Photo credit: craig1black)

Bureaucrats have to remember that not everyone is as mobile as they are. This is strange considering how locally we have had a number of politicians who have been disabled and even in wheelchairs.

In a day and age when we are trying to encourage people to use public transportation and to remember people who are disabled — we can’t forget them when we plan the other facilities and systems in our cities and towns.

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