Lunchtime Poll

LTP: 10/25

As a recent transplant to the Bay Area, I didn’t get it when I heard local residents perpetually complaining about the public transportation here. MUNI seemed to go everywhere, which was a far cry from the typical “hike half a mile in the rain to the nearest bus stop” Seattle was so fond of. But 10 months later, I get it.

MUNI is inefficient, unreliable, and the number of buses I’ve been on that have suddenly gone “out of commission” because the bus driver hit another car or broke some other rule of the road is embarrassingly high (no, seriously, in 10 months this has happened to me more than twice). Who cares if there’s a stop on every other corner if the bus never shows up when it’s supposed to, or if the train pulls into your destination 20 minutes after it was scheduled to arrive?

Which brings me to today’s Lunchtime Poll: if you had to design a public transportation system in an ideal world, what would its features be? I have a few ideas: running on sustainable energy, guaranteed to be on time (in part by building rail systems/pathways for these modes of transportation that do not depend on regular commuter traffic to move along at a reasonable pace), sound proofing, wide & comfortable seats, wider aisles (if you expect two rows of people to stand in them, there should be room for two rows of people to stand in them!), and larger-sized/additional cars added to trains for peak commuting times. I would also like PA systems on public transportation to stay in good repair, so that when the train or bus is packed and you can’t see out of the window, you can still hear the name of the approaching stop.

I also wouldn’t mind if drivers were trained not to throw the breaks on at every stop (emergency stops, sure. Every bus stop? No) when half the bus is standing and some don’t have a hand-hold.

What about you? What would your ideal public transportation look like?

By Meghan Young Krogh

Meghan had a number of quality writing mentors over the course of her education, which just goes to show that you can't blame the teacher for the way the student turns out. Team Oxford Comma represent.

11 replies on “LTP: 10/25”

While I see the need for more, better, and greener public transportation, I’m not always thrilled at the other people I have to share it with. So some kind of sealed pod would be great ;) I’m also convinced, partly thanks to Disney World, that monorails are the future.

The cranky version of my old commuter self would love to see an ettiquette exam as a requirement for riding public transit.  I used to live on the worst train line in Boston and I swear it was a huge part of why I left the city; I just couldn’t take it anymore.  It’s not realistic, but an agreed upon code of conduct would be pretty tremendous.  Also, I agree that lines that aren’t required to follow traditional traffic patterns, that run on sustainable energy, and have easily heard/seen stop warnings would be a definite improvement.

About 1/4 of them are truly wonderful drivers – courteous not only to other drivers on the road, but to the unseated passengers aboard their busses. The other 3/4 are unrepentent assholes, swerving, slamming on breaks, driving extremely aggressively. Like, I can’t imagine the kind of stress that job brings but shouldn’t one of the requirements of the position be that you can HANDLE it?

Fully accessible, reliable, runs on sustainable fuels (not traditional biofuels, but that’s another beef for another day) and wide enough to be sensible.  I don’t live there, but about half the buses in Ottawa have bottlenecks halfway back that are just wide enough for one person (without a backpack, which you shouldn’t be wearing anyway because it doubles your effective footprint on the bus) so people can’t pass.  I swear none of their buses were designed by anyone who’s ever ridden public transportation during rush hour, which is both illogical and unsensible.

Yes, I could write an essay about bus courtesy from a rider’s perspective, because, seriously, can you take the backpack off and put it between your feet now? Men, can you close your legs a little? Pushy old ladies can you wait for the damn people to get off the bus before you get on? Et cetera.

I confronted a Guy Friend about this one time, and he said, “But it’s uncomfortable to sit with your legs together!” And I said, “Is it painful?” And he said, “No.” And I said, “So, just uncomfortable?” And he said, “Yeah, but REALLY uncomfortable.” And I said, “Well, it’s really uncomfortable for me to be smushed up against the side of the bus trying to avoid being touched by a strange man’s leg, so, consider that for a minute.”

He closed his legs a little more.

Oh that happens to me so much and it drives me insane! I’m a little on the small side, and I think men assume that they get to take up every inch of space that I’m not. I take a lot of enjoyment out of making men on planes* so uncomfortable by spreading my legs out until they are touching theirs that they then feel compelled to close theirs. Ha!

*No good public transit where I live these days, so I’m rarely on the bus. One of the many, many things I miss about Chicago.

Hurray!  I’m not on the small side, and I have no compunction about asking men who’re taking up three seats for their obviously enormous testicles to skootch up a bit so I have room to sit down.  I am similarly unapologetic about train and airplane arm rests,.

Leave a Reply