Southbound 48, 2:30-ish

Somewhere near Blanchet, two black, high-school age girls board. They use the back door, because it’s closer to them when the bus stops.

The driver immediately starts hollering at them to come to the front and pay. His tone is harsh, definitely out of bounds for the level of infraction. The girls do as he asks but do not comment until they find their seats, at which point they begin whispering to each other in earnest.

At UW Medical Center, a blonde, twentysomething woman boards through the back door, presumably for the same reason as the girls. Again, the driver starts yelling.

“You need to come up here and pay. Do NOT get on at the back!”

The woman looks surprised but shrugs and complies.

One of the high school girls mutters to the other, “At least we know he’s not racist.”

3 thoughts on “Southbound 48, 2:30-ish

  1. pi-reader

    This is a story that needs to delved into further cause when I first started riding the bus (#174 to and from Federal Way to Downtown) the drivers used to be so cordial but not anymore, I have seen bus drivers flip off fellow drivers, cuss at them out of the window and yell at passengers without provocation.

    Many things in our society has changed certainly since the bus 174 days but that karma thing is rings true. If the drivers were little nicer then maybe they wouldn’t need to be sitting/working behind a plastic cages and have camera protection.

  2. Helen Bushnell

    Bus drivers across the country are seeing their pay cut and their hours increase. I know drivers who used to be really polite who now are just tired. I also know a lot of drivers have just quit.

    We cannot expect the same service for less pay. Bus and rail service needs to be fully funded, and bus drivers need to be treated with respect.

  3. RideFreeArea

    The problem is that Metro has conditions under which it makes sense to board from the rear. None of those conditions exist on the 48 (since it is always pay upon boarding) but it’s still hard to keep track of for every combination of direction of travel, time of day, and route. Take a system like CTA or TriMet and this type of behavior is extremely rare and an obvious case of attempted fare evasion.

    The same problem manifests itself as exiting riders on pay upon boarding buses walk all the way from the middle or back of the bus past one or two sets of closer rear doors, and exit from the front — delaying boarding riders as the operator holds exiting riders off, and ultimately resulting in longer dwell times.

    A secondary cause might be that is difficult to predict where Metro coaches stop and the type of equipment and therefore the expected location of doors. This means it is difficult for waiting riders to predict where to stand for the closet boarding door. Contrast this to a system like TriMet where the coach usually stops directly at the stop marker instead of several feet before or after.

    These circumstances combine to create a system that requires riders to constantly be on their toes regarding where to wait, where to board, and when to pay. Eliminate cases where it is ever acceptable to board through the rear and the unpredictability of where coaches stop, and I predict we will have fewer conflicts between riders and operators, less fare evasion, and a more pleasant experience as riders won’t have to squeeze past each other while navigating conflicting flows of traffic in the aisle.

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