Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Help keep bus routes on time

The highlight of my evening commute is the bus’s pass through a downtown Lakeport that is decorated with holiday lights: in storefronts, lampposts and the tree in Old Courthouse Square.

On my ride home last Monday, I saw, for the first time, the prettiest bus shelter yet: clear panels decorated with a pattern resembling dividers between panes of glass. If there had been bus shelters in Victorian England, I imagine they’d have looked like these. It is entirely in character with the historic buildings that grace Lakeport’s downtown.

(The graffiti with which the hours-old shelter had already been tagged was an entirely different story; suffice to say that I was disgusted at such destructive, pointless behavior.)

Aside from the graffiti’s intrusive scrawl on the shelter, downtown Lakeport is beautiful during the winter holidays.

I look forward to the bus ride each night during its loop through downtown Lakeport.

When I am late to my stop, I miss boarding before the loop that the bus makes downtown. I can board the bus after it’s completed its loop but my commute is diminished when I miss seeing Lakeport decorated for the holidays.

Showing up on time — the time printed on the schedule — is the first responsibility that I have as a public transit passenger. Another is being visible to the driver.

One of the drivers warned us passengers that when daylight savings time ended, people would need lights — a flash light or cell phone glow — to make them visible to the driver at night at bus stops along rural roads.

Even in town I keep a light with me to help the driver see me at night.

While disembarking the other day I grabbed a handout from a compartment on the bus fare box; it reads, “Help us keep routes on time.”

Specifically, Lake Transit asks riders to do the following:

  • Please be at your stop early.
  • Please have your money or pass ready for the driver when you board the bus.
  • Please have your strollers folded up and your possessions ready to board the bus.
  • f you smoke please finish your cigarette before the bus arrives.
  • Monthly bus passes may be purchased at Ray’s or one of the other outlet locations.
  • Please save your questions until the bus is in motion.
  • Please be seated quickly.
  • Please request your transfers at the time of boarding while paying your fare.
  • Please make sure to grab all your personal belongings and be prepared to exit the bus in a timely manner.
  • •Please encourage other riders to do the above.

I’ve observed behavior that runs counter to several of these posted suggestions. People show up at the bus stop unprepared to board and then subject the bus to delay while they fumble for change or look for a pass; some are laden with more possessions than they can reasonably manage.

Small delays add up and become incrementally greater.

Traffic delays notwithstanding, I’d speculate that passenger behavior has potentially the greatest impact on the smooth operation of the bus. We can wield tremendous power by doing our part to keep the buses on time.

Published Dec. 20, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

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