Red Bus Woes

December 5, 2017

To the Editor:

 

 

On Tuesday, November 14, on my way to an appointment, I took the Red Bus to the Tram. The bus  arrived there at 12:25 p.m.; the drop-off spot continues to be by the entrance that is currently blocked, but that’s another issue.  

 

I walked around to the new entrance only to be told by a person in the booth that there would be no Tram until 1:00 p.m. I asked if RIOC knew about this. The attendant declined to say whether RIOC knew. I asked why they didn’t tell RIOC so that the bus drivers could announce it and we could be saved this inconvenience. The response I got was, “It’s not my job.” 

 

Probably so. But isn’t it a shame that there was no thought to saving a lot of people from inconvenience? All of us then had to hightail it to the subway.

 

November 14 was not the first time this happened to me. It also happened on October 3. I had a medical appointment and someone was scheduled to pick me up at 2:30 p.m. I was told the Tram would resume at 1:00 p.m. My pick-up person headed for the Tram at 1:45 p.m., only to find out that it was still not running. And the bus driver calmly let the passengers off the bus and drove on.    

 

My question: whose job is it to let Islanders know what is going on? Most likely it is no one’s job. But it should be.

 

During the summer, I witnessed several instances of drivers letting a lot of people off the bus at the subway. Many appeared to be tourists. I knew the subway wasn’t running because of the Roosevelt Islander blog. Why didn’t the drivers know? And if they did know, why didn’t they announce it? I took to announcing it the second or third time I witnessed it. When I announced it, people would clamor back asking what they should do. The drivers were mum. Not their job either.

 

There should be some way that the MTA, the Tram, and RIOC are all in the loop and can save confusion and inconvenience, not to mention missed appointments, for the passengers they serve.

 

To be fair, I did discuss this situation with RIOC and an effort was made to correct it. Plain fax paper signs were created and scotch taped in the buses over the sign that declares strollers must be folded upon request of the driver. Unfortunately, the bus was always so crowded, when I was on it, that passengers were blocking it. As you might imagine, no one saw these makeshift signs. As people exited the buses, they would brush against the signs until they become dog-eared and ripped.  I cannot understand why drivers cannot be instructed to make these announcements.

 

Better yet, why not program the bus marquees to read either “No Tram” or “ No Subway” when the situation occurs? They can announce Fourth of July fireworks and shopping buses. It all comes back to the fact that it’s no one’s job to coordinate this. But it should be. It would make a difference.

 

I’m sure we all appreciate free service, but does that mean it has to be thoughtless? 

 

Another thing: why don’t drivers make announcements about exiting passengers? They can clearly see in their mirrors all the people who don’t start for the door until the bus comes to a complete stop. I have never heard a driver ask boarding passengers to wait until exiting is finished. So new passengers start to board, and, when they see people trying to exit, cluster around the driver, making exiting more difficult. Boarding takes longer this way and, again, it is an easily avoidable inconvenience – particularly in the not unlikely case that someone exiting is on a walker or pushing a stroller.

 

On November 21, as I boarded the bus to the subway, the driver loudly announced that the Tram was out of service and the Manhattan bound shuttle was across the street. After reassurances that the subway was running, a few left to get the shuttle. What a great help! First time ever I have heard a bus driver help passengers. His name is Steve and, when I asked, he told me he did so on his own initiative. Kudos Steve.

 

Mary Cavanaugh

 

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