because sometimes my synapses actually connect, and a coherent thought results...

10 January 2008

8 Simple Rules for Riding RTA

With apologies to the late John Ritter's sitcom (a fine piece of work on his part, though he left us too soon), my experiences as a transit user over the last couple of weeks have prompted me to present this list for general consumption, in no particular order:

8. If it's too loud, it's too loud: Bone conduction is a wonderful technology for speakerless headphones and discreet microphones, but if your traditional-speaker headphones are causing your skull to resonate such that I can hear your music, TURN IT DOWN. And the first person who gives me crap about "you're too old" gets beaten with my cane...

7. You pay for a ride, your package just goes along for it: Until you're willing to pay an extra fare to place your briefcase, office potluck contribution, retirement gift, bookbag, or other worldly posession on the seat next to you, it travels in one of three places: on your lap, on the floor, or in the overhead rack.

6. Swarm, swarm, swarm... NOT: If you are one of the first people on the bus, or will be one of the first people off the bus, don't cluster near the front door. This only serves to create grief for everyone, and gives the artificial appearance of a full bus. To the people who complain that (as I heard last night) "I thought we were delivered from this", I say get a clue and look at who else is standing and sitting in the back, front, and middle of the bus. You ain't Rosa Parks, this ain't Selma, and we're all in this situation together. Stop the I'm-a-victim pity party RIGHT NOW.

5. Courtesy much?: Guys, if you're under the age of 40, able-bodied, and not overly burdened by other items, get your butt out of that seat when a woman of any age, elderly person of any gender, or less able-bodied person of any age or gender steps on. If he/she refuses the seat, fine, at least you've made the offer. Make it again when the next person fitting that description gets on the bus. And again. And again. And again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Prove to me that common courtesy still is.

4. Leave the driver alone: If it's a problem with the driver, take it up with the appropriate channels after departing the bus. If it's not a problem with the driver, but a problem with the route or the vehicle, the driver is in the same predicament you are, and is likely doing his or her best to accommodate the situation. Your bitching/moaning/kvetching at the point of occurrence will only make things worse, for you, the driver, and everyone else on the bus.

3. Don't assume the driver knows everything: As a corollary to the above, remember that a bus is 40 ft. (or more) long, and what's going on in the back of the bus may not be readily apparent to a person in the front of the bus. This applies to noises, smells, temperature, etc... If it's too hot/cold, walk to the front of the bus and kindly ask the driver if a climate control adjustment can be made. The driver's compartment is somewhat isolated, and is subject to a blast of warm/cold air every time the door is opened, so what's comfortable up front could be unbearable in back. If it's a mechanical issue in the back (a strange noise, a broken window latch or seat), make sure the driver knows about it before you depart. Not everything causes the dashboard to light up.

2. Take the time to say "thank you": RTA likes to hear the good as well as the bad (and still needs to hear the ugly, hopefully before it reaches that point). Note the driver ID number if you can, or ask for their name, and the bus number, as well as time, place, and details as applicable. The occasional "attaboy" works wonders in ensuring that good behavior spreads like a virus (and bad behavior gets attacked like one).

1. Get involved: This is public transportation, and we're all part of the public. Find out more about where funding for the system comes from and where it goes to. Respond when comments are asked for, rather than just complaining when decisions are made. Offer comments when they're not asked for. Write to your elected officials at the state level, ask them why transit funding in Ohio is so poor, and issue them a mandate to fix it. Write to officials in Washington and insist, for the good of our national sustainability, that they provide funds to expand services offered. Somewhere, there's a reality disconnect between what we NEED (and yes, thanks to "Peak Oil", we are at the point of NEED) and what we have.

3 comments:

JMasek said...

Hello. This is Jerome Masek, a public information officer for RTA. We have often said the same thing, but in a more politically correct fashion (as government agencies have to do). Thanks for reminding folks of those things they should already know, but may have forgot.

Christine said...

This is a great list!

Have you ever read The Suburbanization of New York? In one of the essays, the author talks about how subway etiquette declined when NYC started filling up with rich kids who grew up in the suburbs, who weren't schooled in how to speak in hushed subway tones and move their bags so old ladies could sit down, because they'd never ridden public transit before. (Not sure I totally agree with that assessment, having ridden the Jamaica-bound E train at rush hour for 2 years; hardly a trust-fund hipster paradise.)

You can actually get a ticket now for having your bag on the seat next to you - I saw tickets handed out many times.

ThinkThankThunk said...

Haven't read that one yet, but might have to look around for a copy, it sounds interesting. I agree, the E isn't exactly representative of that idea...

I also didn't realize NY transit cops were giving out tickets for occupying extra seats. One could only imagine how that would play out in Cleveland, where RTA's PD is being vilified for (rightfully) enforcing jaywalking regs...