So much for Local. I just got an RSS update that Richard Moore had a new web commercial about transportation. I thought that sounded interesting. This is, very, very negative. Right down to the old film of Perdue with a questionable haircut. However, I don't think it is dirty. When people say that negative commercials win, I think this is what they are talking about. It points out a very bad decision and places it in the worst possible light.
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I hope y'all don't mind a little local flavor along with your coffee. There were a couple things that happened to me over the last week that got me thinking about buses and mass transportation. Today, I had to take care of sick kids in the morning while my wife ran off to classes for several hours. So, I was a little late getting to work, which means I took a bus several hours later than I normally do. As I waited, the nifty NextBus signs told me that the NS bus was coming in 5 minutes, with another in 20 minutes. About 7 or 8 minutes later the NS bus pulled into the stop. I was surprised to see one of our reticulated buses pull up, because they fit about 150 people, and there were only three of us.
Many is the day that I have happily stood on the reticulated bus at rush-hour, whereas before its purchase I would have frowned as the bus passed me by with "FULL....FULL....FULL" flashing on its headboard. I think these buses are a great addition. BUT, why was it still running in the middle of the day, when the park & ride lot is not nearly so full? Maybe there are lots of students riding the NS AWAY from campus at that time of day. Maybe.
The second thing that happened was that my driver got off the bus for a smoke, and disappeared. I finally went to get him and asked if he was the bus leaving a few minutes ago or the one leaving in ten or fifteen minutes. Guess which one he was? Yeah, that other bus was one of the "phantom" buses that the NextBus system seems to have a problem with, buses that appear and disappear. For instance, who would think we'd have cell-phone dead areas in Chapel Hill, they exist, it isn't an urban legend. They exist so much so that the cellular phone system that runs the NextBus "drops" the V line everyday between Meadowmont and UNC-CH. It just disappears, and screws up the online schedule.
The last thing that happened was that the driver, who stepped out, continued to let the bus run. This is a pet peeve of mine. There is a note on the drivers route sign asking them to turn off the engine if they will be sitting for longer than 3 minutes. Well, it is common for buses to idle up to 5 minutes, not uncommon for 10, and hardly a rarity for them to idle through a 15 minute break. About the only time I see the drivers turn the buses off is when they are shut down while the driver walks up to Weaver Street for food/drink/bathroom.
Sometimes, I don't mind so much, like when it is 19 degrees out. ; ) But, today was nice, I actually took my coat off for awhile because the inside of the bus was so hot. This just seems like a waste of gas and a lot of extra CO2 spewed into the atmosphere if you ask me. The irony? The buses have just starting sporting signs asking everyone to lower their CO2 emissions by using CFL bulbs, turning down the thermometer, etc. Pot, kettle. From their mission statement:
The primary mission of Chapel Hill Transit is to provide safe, convenient, affordable, reliable, and responsive public transportation services....supportive of a healthy environment and a sustainable local economy
There you go, the ramblings of a bus rider.