Today the bus driver almost made me cry.
I love the 3-door entrance on the B-Line but today, as I was running towards the back door my arm was the only thing that was going to fit so I quickly gave up my chances of getting in the front and ran to the front entrance as the bus doors were about to close. I stood there and waved and the driver opened the door.
As I got on I flashed my bus pass and the driver said to me in a snooty voice, “what was wrong with the other bus?” (I guess I should mention now that two B-line busses came at the same time and half the crowd opted to run up to the 1st one to spread out, as did I- I just didn’t run as fast in my heels). Anyhow, I tried to reply and say that the backdoor just closed on me and etc, not that there was anything wrong with that 2nd bus but naturally, when 2 buses come at the same time people try to spread out so they don’t’ have to be packed on one bus. I started to explain myself and then he CUT ME OFF and said, “pshh, yeah..whatever..”
I seriously felt angry, upset and embarrassed all at once. And the rest of the morning I was in a rotten mood. And I even woke up in a good mood.
A few things to draw out of my anecdote:
1) Bus drivers have an effect your day and the mood you will carry. Remember that nice 25 UBC driver who used to tell stories about the history of each building in UBC as he passed by them? He was so freaking nice. And he’d always jam the buses in with more people saying, “we can’t be late, we have to fill all your minds with knowledge!” What a damn nice guy. And nobody cared that the bus was packed and nobody could breathe because we were too busy being entertained with the driver’s stories. Everybody laughed and got off the bus in a good mood and that good mood probably spread throughout the rest of the day to other people. On the other hand, if you are an asshole of a driver you’re going to add to the annoyance of taking the bus in the first place. That brings me to my next point,
2) Transit is a service. As a service you have customers. The two words I’m looking for you to connect is “customer” and “service”. I think Translink has to remember that transit is a service and if you do not provide satisfactory customer service then the customers will not come back. It is basic, really. I pay for the bus. And as fares are going these days it is quite a high price. The service is not simply to get me from point A to point B, but as a service you have to compete with other services that do the same thing. Naturally, I expect to get from point A to point B comfortably. Now all of us that take transit, we make certain concessions. We realize we’re going to be in a public space where somebody is going to invade your personal bubble space, or perhaps there may be that person lacking in personal hygiene and you must plug your nose until you or they get off, or the annoying loud music some teenager blasts (today was Kelly Clarkson basting in the ears of some 15 year old boy- I won’t even get started on that…), or, and I feel is the worst, some person is clipping their nails on the bus (that is by FAR the most disgusting and those people should be banned from all public spaces until they learn it is just not cool to be removing tissue from yourself in ANY public setting). So the point is that I make certain concessions when I ride transit and I know it will not be nearly as comfortable or quick as a car would be. However I’ll make that sacrifice not only because it is better for the environment, but I like public services and I want to support them. And by the way, I am a DAMN fine bus passenger and do all the right things (I.e. move to the back when asked, give up my seat for anybody over 60, pregnant, or any people that might have a gimpy leg), and I almost ALWAYS say thank you. (by the way, you say “thank you” to a bus driver in ANY other city and they know you are a foreigner because people by and large only do that in Vancouver).
So please provide me with good customer service or else I will go for other options. And by the way, I was going to drive today too but I told myself that I really need to get back into the habit of bussing. After that experience I was angry that I had not chosen to drive.
Finally, my last point,
3) Similar to my second point, it is not enough to provide me with services- you must do it well. So to bring this back to the lovely discussion of EcoDensity, I want to WANT to use public services and amenities provided for me. There are enough people with a moderate income that can provide these same services privately if they are not happy with the public services given to them. So you have to do the services WELL so people WANT to use them. For example, it is cheaper to have a community fitness centre than build a gym in every condo tower. Overall it is a cheaper if everybody buys into (or puts their taxes towards) a public amenity such as a fitness centre. But if that fitness centre sucks people will pay that small premium to go with other options. I really do WANT to like transit and most days I do. But these experiences really turn me off.
and it should be noted that it is worse off for everyone when people don't buy into a community amenity. Beyond ocial reasons, it is financially smarter to provide a central public amenity that is wll maintained and provides excellent services than everybody doing this separately. And when people provide these things separately for themselves the community amenity goes to shit and loses more dollars because the City will pawn off responsibility to developers ot make swanky condos that you basically never have to/need to/ want to leave.
And 3b) I guess would be for people who CAN’T afford to pay that premium to get the condo gym. It is not fair to those people to give them subpar public amenity. Give use public amenity and services AND do it well. RECOMMEND this Post on Progressive Bloggers CLICK HERE!
Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Today the bus driver almost made me cry.
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