Riding the right way
by Kim Elsifor
From the August, 2018 issue
The bus pulls up at a stop where a woman is standing. She's talking on her cell phone and holds up a finger, signaling the driver to wait. After a few long seconds, she concludes her conversation and steps onto the bus. She removes her backpack, fishes out her wallet, and pulls out a five-dollar bill that's so heavily wrinkled it takes several attempts for the machine to read it. Then she snaps her fingers impatiently at the driver; evidently reading her mind, he presses a few buttons and the machine dispenses a transfer.
A regular rider gets on the bus, recognizes the driver, and sidles up close to chat. He is two feet over the white line that an overhead sign directs passengers to stand beyond. The driver points it out, but he only steps back long enough for other passengers to board, then returns. The cameras located in various locations on the bus are filming this transgression, which could get the driver a written reprimand.
After school, teenagers board and make their way to the back of the bus, talking over each other. Some begin to play-wrestle, ignoring the driver who asks them to all calm down. Their loud conversation drifts into obscenities and bullying.
AAATA bus drivers deal with issues like this every day, and most of them do it with a smile. They do not expect good manners, perfect behavior, or even a thank-you. But a few courtesies can make the ride better for them, and everyone else.
To make commuting easy, routes are designed with plenty of stops and tight schedules. From one rider to another, here are a few tips on how to get where you're going on time:
Be ready to board, with payment in hand. Ask for transfers immediately. If you have questions, step to the side so other passengers can board.
If you know the driver, a quick "Hi" is welcome. If you want to say more, please move behind the
If you're in a front seat and a senior citizen or disabled person boards, please move promptly, without rude comments or sounds. They shouldn't have to ask, "Can I please have that seat?"
When the driver asks you to not swear, it isn't a cue to swear more or take an attitude. It can be reason for the driver to remove you from the bus. That also goes for wrestling.
AAATA drivers are our friends and neighbors. But let's remember they are doing a stressful job, and do what we can to make the trip go well for everyone.
[Originally published in August, 2018.]
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