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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bus driver appreciation day

I like riding the bus more than light rail. It is more personal. And when you get a bus driver who clearly enjoys his work, then your day just looks brighter.

Today I was in need of brighter since I was on my way to the dentist. I had taken the 82 to Sacramento State and I was waiting with about a dozen other riders as the No. 30 unloaded a bus full of students. From the curb, I could hear the driver chatting with each rider as they left, telling them to have a nice day, stuff like that. Finally, the last student left the bus.

"OK. Let's do this," the driver said, and motioned the waiting riders aboard. Everyone received a cheerful "Good morning" in exchange for the fare.

As I settled in the rear of the bus I caught pieces of a conversation between the driver and a student headed for the A. Warren McClaskey adult school. The driver was not only patient, but even cheerful. That, I thought, was a test of driver quality.

After a minute or two wait to get on schedule, the bus headed downtown.

"Sunday at 2 a.m. turn your clocks back one hour," the driver announced. "Monthly pass holders and students with stickers, the end of the month is coming up. You have one grace day to get your November pass. That's Thursday. Friday you will have to have a November pass or sticker. Students with discount stickers and semi-monthly pass holders get no grace day. You will have to have the November passes on Thursday."

The Daylight Savings announcement was a nice surprise, but even more so was the rest of announcement. In all of the bus rides between February and October, I've never had a driver explain the rules for renewing monthly passes.

As the bus approached each stop, the driver announced the intersection. This was an older bus without the robot lady to make the announcements. I couldn't tell if the driver just had an excellent voice that projected all the way to back of the bus or he was using the PA system. Most of buses have really lousy PA systems that garble any effort at communication. Much as I appreciate the effort, I prefer silence to unintelligible noise.

Everyone boarding received their "Good morning," and departing passengers were treated to "Here you go, buddy. Have a great day."

I pulled the stop request as the bus turned from J Street onto Alhambra.

"Alhambra and K. Safeway and B of A," the driver announced.

I left the bus from the back as more lucky riders boarded from the front. It was a nice way to prepare for my teeth cleaning.

1 comment:

wburg said...

See, that's kind of what I like about streetcars too: while it's not universal, for the most part streetcar operators are no more enclosed than bus drivers, especially on one-person pay-as-you-enter cars, so you get a bit more connection between driver and passengers.