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Wednesday, July 19, 2006


The Homeless on the Bus

This is an ambivalent issue. Nevertheless it's hard not to hate MTA for the myriad of customer dissing they stand for, that's topped off by the issue of this post.

When you board a bus, the bus is often packed with people, particularly during commute hours. Packed, as in packed to the point of almost literally tipping over. That, being a common scenario during rush hours, which are already higher in stress levels than normal hours, is already bad enough, as people who are old and young (the freaking MTA doesn't care), have to squeeze further back into the bus as more people are let on and sometimes the driver shouts at them, and orders them to move towards the back of the bus. But sometimes there's really no more room in the back, and the driver sometimes keep yelling; elbows, pushing and shoving, human breaths in your neck. Like bootcamp, for transit riders. All this could be mitigated, by an extra bus or two, but hell are they slow at that.

Ok, there's a reason why MTA sucks. Now, this issue is further compounded when sometimes a homeless person enters the bus, and sometimes the stench begins to ooze all over the place, and people are unable to escape the smell, because they're stuck, because the bus is so packed with people. It really is the frustrating scenario of the movie "Falling Down", with Michael Douglas. It's hot, it's crowded beyond belief, the traffic is insane and the bus moves annoyingly slowly. What's just needed, is stench on the bus on top of an already sometimes mighty frustrating situation (well, to some it certainly is). It's awful. I cannot believe how the MTA (They're mothers and fathers right, have families and so on...) can be so callously indifferent toward such conditions for their customers. They probably wouldn't react if there were feces on the seats.

The homeless problem is a chapter by itself. You can probably say that the homelessness is a result of the "MTA" of general society. Nevertheless, to have to endure a 50 minute ride surrounded by the smell of, say, feces, is just awful. I hate the MTA for this. It's just clear that they don't care.

The point is not for them to refuse the homeless on the busses. But, common, relieve the over crowding, at least. To be standing up, in heat, and with a constant moving, pushing, stopping, accelerating, and also be surrounded by the stench of feces, is just disgraceful. The military is arguably more sanitary and humane than the MTA buses sometimes are. This is supposed to be public transportation right? Not public provocation.

I've enjoyed reading your blog entries, especially the discussions between you and transit advocate. I notice there haven't been any comments and discussion since he became frustrated that the tone of your blog hadn't necessarily changed as a result of the information that he contributed. That's too bad. You've got a right to complain. He's got a right to give facts and a different prespective. Let the readers figure it out for themselves.

As a teacher, I benefit professionally from constructive criticism from my customers (students) as well as my supervisors. Sometimes I don't know how my actions are affecting my students until they tell me. That goes for positive feedback as well as negative. Both are helpful. Given the size of the MTA, it makes reforms and feedback receiving more difficult. But if people don't submit feedback, how will MTA get anyone else's perspective but their own?

Have you thought about cc:ing each of your posts to It would be no skin off your teeth to do it. With each posting, you'd be creating a well-spring of feedback that they otherwise wouldn't get.

Either way, I'll keep reading.
I very much agree with you.
I appreciated transit advocates fact based inputs, as they often helped, but like you say, a blog is meant for expressing one's thoughts on. And yes, that is for readers to figure out. I had to figure it out. Blogs are personal expressions, yet facts are welcome as long as the blogger accepts them.

I, nor probably most bloggers, purport to give out professional opinions, heck, it's a free blog. I'm not some acclaimed public official, but a frustrated transit rider.

And like you say, criticism is nessecary. Nobody is perfect by default, and in the case of MTA, it's a far cry. So of course criticism is nessecary to change something.

ps I've thought about delivering complaints directly to the beast, yes, but in the past when having done so, they seem to have gone unheeded. At least a blog is regardless if they care, don't care, or don't like it. That was the idea.
And you're right on target.
Allowing smelly passengers to ride is a matter of US law, not the choice of the transit agency or the driver. Period. We can't bar people from the bus just because they don't smell nice. We don't like it either. We're a public service agency, we have to provide the service.
Extra buses and extra drivers cost money. ALL big city public transit services fill up their buses and train cars during rush hour. Anything less would be wasteful, ineffecient, and contribute to the traffic problem that public transit is supposed to relieve.

Double the buses on Ventura Blvd. and Wilshire Blvd. during rush hour? Nuts!
Smelly passengers Should be allowed on the bus.

As for crowded buses. Well, transit being packed during rush hours is common, but to have a ticked off driver and a pregnant woman stand up next to the front entrance door due to over crowding is a bit in excess of being reasonable. It's plain unsafe.
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