Stop the Bus!

Remember how I said I was going to write a letter to the editor thanking the bus folk for calling out stops? Now I wish I’d never sent it because by the time it ran, I’d found that more often than not, stops aren’t called.

Here’s what I said:

Dear Editor – I want to express my thanks that finally, the long-awaited calling of bus stops is happening.

I am blind, so in the past in order to get off at the right spot, I had to figure out approximately how long it took to reach a given bus stop. Because this was an approximation, I would always ask the driver to let me know when we reached it.

Most times, this worked out fine. But sometimes, for whatever reason, a driver would forget.

I would have no clue until it was too late, and there I’d be.

Drivers always did the best they could to set things right. But now they won’t have to, because all stops are being called, and I can pull my own bell just like everybody else.

I did that for the first time last week, and although it may not seem like much to most people, it was pretty neat to know I was getting off exactly where I should be, without any guessing.

To all the bus drivers, thank you for calling out stops.

I know it’s probably a bit annoying for you, but you’re making everyone with a visual impairment very, very happy.

This will make bus travel so much easier for us, and I can’t express my appreciation enough.

I’ve been keeping track, and out of the 13 buses I’ve taken this week, only 3 called out stops, and 2 were driven by the same dude and a third had another employee on board. Hmmm.

Every time I’d get off the bus, I’d ask a non-calling driver why they weren’t calling out stops. Finally, one had the balls to actually speak up and explain why this was happening, instead of just mumbling, or acting as if they were deaf.

Oh yeah, seemingly deaf bus driver that pulled his bus into the middle of the road, it would have been nice to tell me that I was about to step off into something that wasn’t sidewalk. Thank ya, thank ya very much.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. The guy who finally answered me with at least a reason for this said that most drivers find it a safety concern to read the card and drive.

this is puzzling to me, for two reasons. Of course it would be dangerous to read the card and drive if your eyes are glued to the card. So why not, when you’re dropping someone off at a stop or picking someone up, read a few stops and memorize them. You already know the route by heart even if you don’t know the names of the streets you stop at. It wouldn’t take long before you wouldn’t need the card, I would think.

And if it’s so difficult to drive and do other things, then why do I see lots of bus drivers monkeying with their fare-boxes, their displayed sign, having long and involved conversations with passengers, all manner of things. I’m sure, with a little work, they could master this. They just don’t want to. Hel, I watched a bus driver who*was* calling stops discussing at length how this stop-calling was sooo distracting. If it’s so distracting, don’t take on another task, lady!

I don’t know what to think, since I’ve never driven a bus, or a car for that matter. But I’d think there could be ways of adapting if there was the will. And there just isn’t. I’ve already called the supervisor. In fact, I called her Tuesday from a bus that wasn’t calling stops. I’m still waiting for a call back. She’s been cool before, so I have faith that I’ll at least hear news of some variety.

Hopefully my letter to the editor, even though it doesn’t accurately express how I feel about how this is going, explains to bus drivers that some people do appreciate it and this yelling out bus stops isn’t just some new stupid regulation.

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