Tuesday, August 03, 2010

This can only go well...

Via unveils--and begins using-new hybrid buses.

Half-a-mil-plus busses with individual reading lights (because, apparently, the overhead lights just aren't enough), overhead storage, and--my personal favorite--reclining seats.  All paid for with federal stimulus funds, which means that I hope my readers outside of SA enjoyed providing us with these!

I've been riding Via nearly my whole life--my mother took me home from the hospital on a bus, for cryin' out loud--and it is because of that long-term ridership that I reacted to this news with a shudder.

Reclining seats?  On a city bus?  And this seemed like a GOOD idea to someone?  (Well several someones--whomever designed it, whomever greenlighted the design to be built, and of course the folks responsible for purchasing the bedamned things.)

There's not a whole lot of room on a city bus.  For all that Via's president is claiming this to be akin to a "first class plane ride", it is going to have much more in common with coach.

I am intimately familiar with one of the routes these busses are going on, having ridden the 17/93/94 twice a day most weekdays since 2008.  They are incredibly crowded during rush hour (to the extent that I added in a trolley ride to get the girls & I to the 17's first downtown stop in the afternoons in order to ensure us seats).  Reclining seats means either you have someone's torso in your lap or--if they removed some seats to make room for the reclining ones--yet more people who either have to stand or wait 15 - 30 minutes for the next one.

I'd like to think people will be too polite to recline their seats onto the next person, but, again, I've ridden these busses.  The 17 I routinely caught in the morning featured middle-aged women sitting sideways to take up two seats or purloining a second seat for their purses/bags, just so they wouldn't have to sit near the any of the great unwashed.  And these are the "choice" riders Via is trying to capture more of.  (And yes, I have asked people if they bought a second seat for their gear, and no I do not put my stuff in another seat--hell, I've been known to sit with my eight-year-old in my lap in order to open another seat on a really crowded bus.)

I want to like the idea of overhead bins.  The idea has some merit for regular routes, but I'm not naive enough to think they will solve the taking-up-two-seats issue.  (Or the "too stupid to close up their stroller" issue--and yes I've taken a stroller on a bus before, and yes I folded the damned thing before getting on, like you're supposed to.)

For years I have questioned whether Via's administration actually rides Via, and this cements to me (as if their clogged parking lot did not) that none of them do.

1 comment:

Charlene said...

In Louisville we have TARC. The only routes that are crowded are the ones from a far affluent county. This past summer several routes were cut because of the budget. The people on the affluent route agreed to pay an additional $1 per day to keep their special route. Being the princes they are, the TARC guys increased the other commuter routes $1 each too.

The problem isn't the rate, the problem is riders; there aren't enough and it only gets worse with route cuts. Louisville has a $100 million+ basketball arena for it's college team. Louisville does not have mass transit!