Can You Spell Business Without Bus?

Here I go, ranting again, although I’m not nearly as mad about this as my other posts of today.

There’s something that drives me nuts. It’s the answer I get when I ask a business what bus route it’s on, or where the nearest stop is. Nine times out of ten, the answer is simply a blank stare and a long um. At best, I get told to ask the driver. That’s a crap shoot, since as happened to me the other day, some drivers don’t give a crap and expect you to pull the bell at the right spot. Some are great, and some haven’t a flaming clue and could get me pretty lost. If I ask for driving directions, however, I get quick precise directions down to the last detail.

Ya know, for a city who is trying to promote its transit system as the way to go, it has a long way to go in teaching the businesses about said transit system. If someone can’t get decent bus directions, they’ll just say “Ah screw it!” and either drive themselves there or take a cab.

I had another scary experience to do with businesses not knowing what stops are near them. After going into a store, I asked someone to walk me out to the stop that would take me downtown. The guy had no clue, but took me to the nearest stop. To make things worse, ever since the transit system undertook having this code system instituted where you could call a number and ask a robot thingamabob to tell you when the next bus would be at this stop, they removed all of the route-listings from the bus signs as well as times of arrival and just left the number to call and the code to dial to get when the next bus was coming. That’s great, when only one route comes to a given stop. But in a lot of cases, multiple routes come to the same stop, so you only get info for one route.

Anyway, a bus pulled up. Most times, I ask the bus driver what route he is driving before I get on. This one time, in my entire existence, I didn’t. Oh oh oh, never again!

The bus drove off, and at about the time when I expected to get downtown, the bus stopped! I asked if we were downtown. The driver said, “Oh no, ma’am, this bus doesn’t go downtown. We’re at (insert intersection of streets out in bum fuck nowhere).”

Uh, uh-oh. That’s a big uh-oh. I have never been stranded before, and it just happened, partially because the people in the store have no idea what stops lead where. It’s partly because of the shitty signage, but if the people had been at least familiar with which stop would lead downtown and which would lead to the outer perimeter, they would have taken me to the ballpark of the right place.

“don’t worry,” the poor startled driver said. “There’s a bus coming to this stop that will take you back into the city. Just wait 20 minutes.” So since I wouldn’t have the slightest clue of how to direct a cab to my stranded ass, I waited in the blazing sun. I tried to go in the shelter, but that was worse, since 3 sides of glass focused the sun on me. Ooo! I’m an ant and this shelter feels like a magnifying glass! Sizzle!

While I sizzled, I called the store and told them what had happened. I told them I don’t completely blame them, since the signs blow, but I said it would be good for business if they educated themselves about the nearest bus stops that led in each direction. Oh my my my how the poor man apologized. I think he would have cried. He said he hoped it wouldn’t be a huge inconvenience. I’m merciless. I said I really don’t know how much of an inconvenience it was going to be, since I was stranded in bum fuck nowhere and had only a slight idea of when I would be returning to civilization . I told him I wasn’t blaming the poor well-intentioned fellow, except I hoped this would be a lesson, and maybe he would learn a little about the bus.

Finally, a bus pulled up, and I could get off near my house, saving me some time and some hastle. But Gees louise, it would sure help business if people who ran stores understood what in hell bus could deliver their pedestrian customers close to their doors.

Hmmm. Looks like I should talk to the city about this, too. Oh boy. What is this, advocacy week? At least in the near future, when they have to start calling out all stops and they’ve commissioned more buses, they’re going to put better signage up, i.e. they’re putting the damn route numbers back up. Good idea, thanks for comin’ around.

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