Sic(k) Transit

I use mass transit to get back and forth to work. Houston is renown for its sucky bus service. This is sad, since it’s the fourth largest city in the United States and is sprawled all over the place.

The reason I take the bus? I’m cheap. It costs $15 a day to park my car in the underground parking garage. If I wanted to expose my car to the elements (and to would-be thieves), however, it would only cost me $6 a day. The firm won’t pay for parking, but it will provide monthly bus passes. You see, Houston is also under the gun to clean up its filthy air. So there are incentives for businesses to keep their employees out of their cars and on buses and in car pools instead.

Anyway, an ongoing battle I have with my particular route (36 Lawndale) is that it is never on time. Never. Sometimes, the buses are running so far behind schedule that they just don’t bother to show up at all. I guess when you’re running 30-40 minutes behind on a route that is supposed to have buses every 15 minutes during peak and every 30 minutes during non-peak times, you just say to yourself “fuck it” and keep driving.

I sat at the bus stop today for over 30 minutes. I was out there at about 8:20. I had just missed a bus, but I knew another would be along around 8:36. Well, around 8:39 one did come along, barreling down the street going at least 35 miles an hour, through a school zone I might add. Me and the other three people standing at the stop waved our arms and shouted after him, but he just looked at us and kept going.

Around 8:51 (another scheduled time) one did appear. This time I took no chances. I stood in the middle of the road with my arm out, like a traffic cop. He was either going to have to stop or hit me. Fortunately, he did stop. So I made it to work, but about 10 minutes late. (I’m supposed to be there at 9 a.m.)

The people I feel sorry for, though, are the people who — unlike me — do not have a choice in the matter. They take the bus because they have to, not because they want to or because they are too cheap to drive their cars where they have to go.

I see young mothers on the bus with several children, some of them very small (infants and young toddlers). You know these mothers have no other mode of transportation. If they did, they wouldn’t choose to spend half their day on the bus with a screaming, fussy, damp toddler would they? (Would they?!)

I explained this to the nice woman who answered the phone at the “Customer Complaint Department.” (It bothers me that they have felt the need to set up a specific department and/or phone line for customer complaints.) I have a confirmation number for my bitch session, #202555. We’ll see what comes of it. I’m not holding my breath.

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