Friday, November 7, 2008

And Now, For the Rest of the Story...

On the same ride to work yesterday (see previous post, "It's My Equipment But I Can't Help You Use It"), the same bus driver started to pull through an intersection but got stuck in the middle. While we're waiting for the traffic to pull forward, a guy in a truck going the opposite direction is shouting something out his window that no one can understand. He keeps shouting this over and over. At one point, I see a woman in a car in front of us getting back in her car, although I hadn't seen why she was walking around, but figured it had something to do with what the guy was yelling. Eventually the cars in front of us moved, and we were able to clear the intersection and proceed to the next bus stop. Where I realized that the shouting guy and the woman walking around had to do with the bus - the bus driver had apparently pulled so far forward that he had rammed the bike rack into the back of the car in front of us. The guy in the truck had been yelling that he'd seen the bus hit the car, and the woman getting back in her car had been the driver of the hit car checking on the damage. When we got to the bus stop, the bus driver and the car driver both got out and were yelling at each other about if there was damage or not. As it was only a few stops before I get off, I decided I'd had enough of the CTA for one morning, so got off the bus and walked the rest of the way to work. Sometimes I think I should invest in a car and start driving to work.

It's My Equipment but I Can't Help You Use It

On the bus yesterday on the way to work, we sat for 5 minutes while a woman tried to put her bike on the carrier mounted on the front of the bus. The poor woman twice came to the door and apologized that she was taking so long, but made it clear she had never taken her bike on the bus and didn't know how to work the bike rack. The driver at one point told her explicitly that he was not able to get off and show her how it works. Eventually another passenger got off and helped her.

I can understand the CTA not allowing drivers to help lift a bike - insurance issues if the bike was damaged or if the driver was hurt lifting a heavy object - but to not be able to get off and show the woman how to lower the rack and make sure the bike was secure after she'd placed the bike is ridiculous! I wonder how long the driver was going to have waited, watching her struggle? I'd probably still be sitting there waiting for her to figure it out. Great customer service, CTA.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Day Off From The Commute

My commute today consisted of walking from the bedroom to the kitchen table.  I guess technically it is still a commute but man was it nice to not have to go in to work today.  I avoided the crowds and had time to go vote.  I have to say though, I do miss the routine of going into work.  It helps me get going in the morning and helps me get into work mode.  It kinda serves as my way to balance work and personal life (even though they tend to overlap a lot).  On my way in, I use the time (if I'm not catching up on sleep) to think about the day's tasks.  On my way out, I use the time to unwind and think about dinner and any meetings  I have with friends.   

More thrills from the CTA

My bus home last night stopped on Michigan Ave. and sat for about 5 minutes. The driver finally stood up and announced that he would be running express, as usual, but not getting off the expressway at the usual exit (where I get off), but one mile beyond, as there was apparently an accident that was preventing traffic from exiting at the usual spot. I stayed on figuring it would be faster to catch another bus going back toward my house, or just walk the mile home, than wait for and take the local bus all the way. At the next stop, the driver announced he was actually going surface streets all the way. Which makes more sense, as he wouldn't miss any stops. What I don't understand is why he suddenly became a local bus, stopping at all the stops along the way? No one on the bus wanted to get off, as we all thought this was an express bus. And there was a local bus right behind us. In fact, we were passed by 3 other express buses. I appreciated that the CTA didn't have us get on the expressay and get stuck in traffic, but why can't they get their act together to do things that make sense? It took an hour to get home last night, when the ride is usually 40 minutes or less! Oh, and when we got to the supposedly closed exit, it was open, and it looked like the next exit, where they originally said they were going to re-route us to, was the one that was closed!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lonely streets

When I come back home late at night, I usually walk 2 or 3 blocks after getting off the bus. Lately, I started to freak out on how dark the streets are, and how lonely they are. I wonder on how insecure is walking at night back home ( and even during the day!). Some times I've crossed by some crazy guy walking in the street...and start walking fast or changed streets.......I wonder, what would I do? how would you a approach a situation of danger?

Scooters' last gasp

With the speculators out of the petroleum futures markets, and gas prices returning to normal, is the scooters' whine to be silenced?

One of the more enjoyable features of this summer's gas price spike has been a return to the road of thousands of vintage motorbikes that had been slowly rusting away in area garages. I have spotted dozens of classic, more petrol-friendly Honda CB350s, Yamaha YZ500s, even several fairing-equipped Kawasaki KZ750s. (Prince's bike in "Purple Rain") In August, at a movie theatre parking lot in the 'burbs, I saw a totally original "Kaw Thou" --a Kawasaki KZ1000, shiny and gleaming like it was still 1984.

Unfortunately, the price spike has also given license to whoever wanted a scooter to purchase one without guilt, and absurdly but proudly ride them to work. I think it is sooo American that, at the height of pump-price madness, these characters felt emboldened to purchase yet another gas-consuming device. How long have these folks secretly wanted one, but stopped because they thought they would look foolish?

I'm sure their thinking went like this: Hmm, OK, gas is $5 per gallon; I commute 10 miles over surface streets to get to and from work. This cute, lime-green Italian scooter gets 75 miles per gallon, and only costs $3200 (matching helmet $120). That means that gas would have to fall back to, oh about $2.75 per gal in the next 15 years to make this purchase look ridiculous, and that won't happen in my lifetime! Where the hell's my checkbook?

Whatever your mode of transportation, please use it to get to the polls on time to vote in tomorrow's election.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shall I Jump Off as You Speed By?

Twice in the last week I've been on a bus with a driver who seems to have difficulties handling all that's required of a bus driver. I'm sure the job is a difficult one, controlling such a large vehicle, watching out for crazy drivers, making sure everyone pays the correct fare. However some drivers seem to forget that part of the job includes stopping to pick people up and drop people off. One driver last week blew past two stops in a row, then got upset when the people trying to get off hollered as she started to speed by a third stop. Another day, a driver on a different route twice missed different stops. Apparently driving the bus while keeping track of where the stops are is too much for some drivers to handle.