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Tuesday, August 01, 2006


MTA's Bus Priorities Are So Stupid

Frequently when crowds with riders are waiting for the bus, and it finally arrives it's so packed that there's no room for additional passengers and the damned bus therefore won't stop, leaving the crowd waiting ad nauseam for the next bus--without knowing whether it will also be too packed to let them on. That is so dumb. What does it take for the MTA to assess its lines and prioritize bus operations where the most people need them? You could ask anyone within those large nightly crowds outside shopping malls and popular destinations who're waiting for the bus home, if they knew where more buses were needed, and they'd answer "yes. Right here!". Freaking duh!

Like mentioned in an earlier post, you can often see empty buses pass by across the street from where the actual crowd is waiting for it. It'd be a no-brainer to take those empty buses and place them where the crowd actually is. Why? Well, so that dozens of riders won't have to go through the undue frustrations of waiting for extended periods of time, then when the bus they've waited for finally arrives it's either operated by a rude driver who won't stop no matter what, or the bus is simply out of room. That's just such a provocation. Everyone knows that it's not impossible or even unrealistic to add buses to routes where they're needed the most. Yet the MTA won't do so, or if they do, it'll be only after they've neglected the dignity of bus riders for several years. You see all types of people and the expressions on their faces when the bus finally comes, but is too crowded to allow them aboard, need only be witnessed once to realize that a change is needed.

It's really a freaking battle to use the bus in L.A. It's a 50/50 game between reasonable convenience and excessive frustration. Yet, all it'd take to reduce some of those frustrations would be a nod up in MTA pro-activeness. How come that doesn't happen? Are they busy fighting with the Bus Union or what? Well, who cares, it's the riders who pay the price, and thousands are sick of it, while only a few dozens of leadership figures who could make the change don't care enough.

Then again, it's a part of the same leadership that's allowed witnesses to get murdered in local jails, allowed veterans to die diseased on local streets, and allows all denizens to get dodged by the bus . This is Baghdad, dude. They're literally fine with allowing people getting murdered, and die in filthy conditions on the streets, otherwise they wouldn't be so slow about doing something about it. Where have their priorities been? To dress up for some West side party? It's bullshit and everyone pays the price, including grandmothers and the elderly who can't freaking rely on something basic as transportation in a city that vastly depends on it.

Rerouting the empty bus across the street going the opposite direction isn't the no-brainer that you think. Things to consider:

1. Work rules. Drivers are required by law to have specified rest periods after certain amounts of driving (you don't want to have accidents, after all). Changing routings on the fly makes these things much more difficult to work out.

2. The bus might be empty heading east at Western, say, but there may be heavy demand for that bus a mile or two further down the road.

3. And even if there isn't heavy demand for that bus, further down the road, it will turn around and come back. By re-routing that bus, you've just created a hole in the schedule later in the day, that cannot be easily remedied.

The solution is to increase the number of buses, not to re-route buses on the fly.
Drivers must rest, and need rest.

A bus may be empty for some stretches and the crowd may be awaiting it further down the road.

But that isn't the question. The question is, look at the scenario and the impact it has on people, and how hard it's for a decent person to ignore it, yet nothing's being done that suggests MTA finds the urgency in there and years go by with the same depressive scenarios occuring.

I cannot fathom why not more, even if just a few buses could be added to those routes where there clearly aren't sufficent buses to deal with the demand. And it's a demand, you know, a demand for people who want to get to their homes, or whatever, not something that can be easily ignored. It's a matter of just putting more buses on routes where the waiting periods are already too much to stomach. Let alone when the bus finally comes, it's too packed. That's too much to expect transit riders to simply accept, as the issue has a profound emotional impact.

Be it adding buses or rerouting buses, it doesn't matter, but why don't they do it, right now?
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