Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Story of the Three Buses

The polar vortex is finally gone and hints of spring are all over the place, including full bike racks on buses and that is what brings me to write this blog post!  I wish this was a tale similar to "The Story of the Three Bears" and that, like Goldilocks, I was just trying to find the right bus.  However, I'm not a "Goldi" and I didn't get to decide which bus fit just right.  You see - this is actually a tale about how it's not always easy getting around by bike and bus.  This adventure explains how it took me three buses to get home.

So what happened?  After work last week, Julie and I met up for cocktails (and a transit-related meeting).  The meeting (i.e. happy hour) ended and it was time for me to head home.  I didn't have far to go to catch a bus.  We met at the Majestic, which has a convenient bus stop located right outside the building.  Sure enough, I only waited a few minutes for the bus when I saw one approaching.  I was excited for such speedy service!  That was until I saw two bikes on the front of the bus.  I kept thinking in my head, "Damn! Please, people with bikes - make this your stop!"  Unfortunately, it was not their stop and by default, it was certainly not my stop to get on the bus.  Grrr...

Since I was a little frustrated, I decided to bike north to the Warren & Woodward stop.  It was there that I sent a text to DDOT  (506-64) to learn how long I had to wait.  Twenty minutes.  Okay - that was not bad but it was a little chilly, so I decided to continue to bike north to the bus stop at Grand Boulevard and Woodward to help me warm up.  After waiting a little bit, I saw in the distance a bus!  As the bus approached closer to the stop, I didn't see any bikes.  "Woohoo!"  I thought, "I'm getting on this bus and heading home."  That was until I realized that the bus didn't have any bikes on it because it did not have a bike rack.  Let me repeat that:  IT DID NOT HAVE A BIKE RACK.  In fact, it looked like once upon a time it had a bike rack but it broke off or something.  Just my luck!  Grrr...

So I waited.  At that point, it was after 8pm and I was cold because the sun was down and I didn't plan to be out after dark. Anyway, I stayed put at Grand Boulevard and Woodward and waited.  And waited.  Another twenty minutes passed and finally another bus approached.  I didn't see any bikes on the front and I saw shiny metal bars across the front!  Indeed, that bus (the third bus) had an empty bike rack on the front.  In excitement, I pulled down the bike rack and placed my bike on the bus, which seemed up a little higher than usual but, oh well, my bike was on a bus!  (Unfortunately, there's no picture of bus #3 because I was in such a hurry.) When I finally got a seat inside the bus, I realized I was riding an older bus.  In fact, it had a sign prominently displayed that read, "No Radios Allowed."  I'm assuming that sign was put up before all the kids had their cd players and/or mp3 players and/or ipods.  Another tip that it was an older bus was the sign that notified riders that there was a public hearing scheduled for Friday, February 24, 2012.  (While I'm happy to see some of the older buses in commission to add efficiency, come on DDOT - take down some of the old signage.)

Luckily, the third bus got me to the Fairgrounds, last stop of the 53 Woodward.  I thanked the bus driver, took my bike off the bus rack, and rode into the sunset. 
Wait...the sun already set. 
I rode home in the dark and cold but I made it home. 

Three buses later.

The end.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A 2W4W Editorial

A note to our dear readers:
Yesterday, many of you may have seen a post from us showing a sneak peek of some amazing new technology that SMART has in beta test mode. We were contacted by SMART directly and asked to remove that post due to the fact that we weren’t authorized to share that information (which we, for the record, understood we were). We have a good relationship with many folks at SMART, and out of respect for them, we took the post down. We did note that the post reached over 330 people, who, we presume, were really excited about the technology advancements, so we wanted to write this editorial to give our readers that background, and some other thoughts.
To us, it highlights a bigger question for SMART. How do they respond to positive press? When we posted a link to the blog directly on their Facebook page yesterday morning, we noticed that the 2 immediate previous posts on their page said:
2. A story about a bus driver flicking off a driver
Literally. You cannot make this up.
So. SMART is in the news a lot (think: route cuts) and on social media a LOT (see above or many posts on their Facebook page) in a negative light. We aren’t saying that our post needs to be the post they embrace, and they are welcome to share their technology news in the way they see fit. But in a way - isn’t creating a positive buzz kind of a good thing in today’s media world of Facebook shares and re-tweets and god knows what other social media the kids are using these days? Especially given the sea of negativity that SMART currently swims in. In our eyes, our post created excitement about SMART for 330 people. Given our current transit system and its challenges, that’s priceless.