New rider, new driver

Yesterday, I rode the 48 with a young woman who was very new to Seattle. When she boarded the bus, she first asked the driver if we were traveling south (having been told by the northbound driver that she was headed the wrong direction) and then asked if and at what time we would get to 24th Avenue South. Oddly, the driver of our bus didn’t know if he passed 24th Avenue South, despite the fact that it’s one block east of 23rd Avenue South, a street the 48 travels on for some distance. When he suggested she get off and retry the northbound 48, I decided to intervene. I told her that the bus we were on would get her where she was going.

“Can you call the people you’re supposed to meet and find out the cross street, so you’ll know where to get off?” I asked.

“I could if this bus had a pay phone.”

Perhaps trying to make up for his lack of route knowledge, the driver handed the woman his cell phone. “You have to dial the area code first.”

She looked at him blankly. “What’s the area code here?”

(Did I mention she was new to Seattle?)

She eventually completed the call and found out the cross street, which the driver knew. He told her she’d make it there before 6:30 PM, her scheduled meeting time. She thanked us both for our help and, after a pause, asked the driver one final question:

“Hey–how come some buses are pay as you leave and some are pay as you enter?”

“Oh,” he said, “we just do that to confuse people.”

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