There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tales of horror on the commute

You really know you're in for a fun commute when the bus arrives and promptly dies at your feet.

The driver tried several combinations of switches and magic spells but nothing he did could revive the beast.

"What did you do?" the driver asked when he finally opened the door manually. He was kidding.

I went inside while the driver went outside to look around. The driver returned and called home to report the fuel door had popped open. Apparently, unlike passenger cars, you are not allowed to move a bus with the fuel door open. Something in the coach union contract, perhaps.

The driver complained that he doesn't have a key for the door and someone on the other end of the conversation gave him instructions on how to fix the door without a key. And, voila, when he returned the bus started immediately and we were on our way.

Until the bus stopped again.

This time we were not next to the curb at a stop. We were in the left turn lane of J Street at the entrance to Sacramento State.

The driver reported his situation to the maintenance people, and then opened the door. He considered exploring beyond the safe confines of the bus. As he leaned his head outside several cars roared by. He pulled his head back in the bus, closed the door and announced: "We're going to be sitting here folks because that's the way it is."

Everyone was calm. From my perch in the first elevated row of seats in the back of the bus I imagined someone who writes horror novels as a sideline placing the characters of his story in a disabled bus in a turn lane of a busy intersection. No one can leave. It's too dangerous. But what about the danger on the bus?! Trapped!

The dozen or so passengers lack my imagination. They haven't said a word. The driver had a few more conversations with maintenance as arrangements were made. One lady opened the top windows to let in some air. We waited.

Eventually a Regional Transit security officer arrived at the front door of the bus and told the driver to try starting the bus again.

The bus started.

"It was your fuel door," the officer offered.

I think the driver said, "Thanks." In any event, the bus made it through the intersection and to the CSUS bus stop. I decided to take the No. 30 bus downtown. While I waited, a replacement bus arrived and the new No. 82 and its horror novelist driver were soon on their way to the 65th Street light rail station.


Queen of Dysfunction said...

Fuel door? THE FUEL DOOR?!?!


John said...

I suppose the fuel door connected to compressed natural gas needs to be secured. Don't want some prankster letting the air out of the balloon.

Still, it was odd to have the engine shut down because a door popped open. One would think a simple warning light would suffice. Maybe with an annoying beeping noise. Anything that would give the driver time to pull the bus off the roadway.

ByJane said...

if the fuel door is connected to the compressed natural gas, then what is the ankle bone connected to???????????

John said...


The ankle bone is connected to the kneejerk, which is why the bus stops when the door pops open! These are liberal buses.