Today was day one of my little bus experiment.Â Iâ€™m trying to accomplish two things, one selfish and one selfless(ish).Â First, I want more time to read and I donâ€™t particularly like driving all the time. Secondly, I want to reduce my oil usage and stop supporting an industry that, for so many reasons, should not be getting encouragement.
I am hoping to have a bit of a series of blogs about my bus experiences, the people I meet, sotries I hear, etc.Â Iâ€™m expecting it to be an uplifting experience.Â However, todayâ€™s story is a little different than I expected.
I rarely prepare before undertaking activities, it is either a blessing or a curse, I have not figured out which just yet.Â But, in this case, I did get online and check out the schedule etc.Â One of the things I discovered, that I thought was pretty cool at the time, was this (quoted from the bus schedule):
Stop System: the Boise city buses operate on a flag-stop system, which means you can flag down an approaching bus if you are on the same side of the street as the bus is traveling.Â Nampa/Caldwell buses operate on a fixed-stop system which means a bus driver will only pick up and drop off passengers at designated locations marked with a bus stop sign.
The problems with expectations is that they are so easily dashed…
I got to the bus stop on the corner about 5 minutes early.Â Because I do not like to stand around, and we are on a flag-stop system, I decided to walk along the route and catch the bus as it came by.Â About 7 minutes into my walk my plan started coming together, I heard the bus, turned around and flagged him (AKA waved) to stop.Â For a reason I was unable to determine at the time, he apparently thought it would be better for me to â€œstopâ€ than for him… so he flagged me right back… and kept going.
This is where my lack of careful research failed me.Â I decided to continue walking along the bus route, thinking that soon, another (less brake-impaired) bus driver would come along (with his trusty stead) and whisk me away to my intended destination.Â After walking for an hour, I discovered that this particular route only had two busses and they are an hour apart (Note to self: read the entire schedule, not just until you find the bus you want).
When the next bus ambled up, I was clever.Â I put my fare ($1) in my hand… and then flagged (a mighty flag I might add… I was not waiting another hour to flag again!!!).Â I figured the buck would grease the wheels of the operation.Â Either he would recognize the money as the universal sign for â€œplease stop for me, its your job, and the reason for your existence on this streetâ€ or, he would be into strippers and see it as an opportunity to enhance the evenings fun… either way… I was getting a ride out of it.
However, when he pulled over, he informed me that he did so out of his own benevolence, and that if I were not at a bus stop, he could not pick me up, or he would get a citation.Â To me, this seemed like a good time to say that, after walking a hour along his bus route, I felt fairly safe in stating that there were no â€œbus stopsâ€ per se.Â No signs, no benches… nothing.Â And… this was a flag-stop system!!!Â I knew this because it was the one thing I *did* read before leaving the comfort of my home on my rugged South East passage.
He quickly dismissed this by saying they were in the middle (started about two weeks ago) of converting all routes to fixed-stop and if I looked at the road (or in some cases sidewalk) in certain designated areas I would see spray painted, in pink, the bus route number and stop number (i.e. 10 – 37 for route 10, stop 37).Â You cannot possible imagine my embarrassment for not having noticed these key indicators before!
So, I asked for clarification, â€œyou are in the process of changing to fixed routes, but donâ€™t actually have the fixed stops in place yet.Â Further all of your documentation says that you are a flag-stop system, and if you stop between fixed stops, you will get a ticket for it.â€Â He confirmed that I had correctly summarized the situation.
Is it just me, or would it make sense for the BPD (Boise Police Department) and the BUS (Boise Urban Stages… yep, thatâ€™s what it stands for here in Boise) to TALK (you know, talk… comunicate!).Â How tough would it be for the PBD to just let them go on flag-stopping for a few more weeks until the fixed stops were in place?Â I grabbed a comment card… Iâ€™m going to direct them here… there is not enough room on the little card for me to be frustrated and still try to be funny
Side note: the driver who did pick me up was *fantastic*.Â He took the time to explain everything to me, including showing me the pink markings (cleverly disguised as electrical or phone lines), and went out of his way to make sure I understood the system.Â Additionally, he was a very friendly and funny guy, and I hope I get him as my diver more often!