Ways To Improve Riding TheBus
Wednesday - September 03, 2008
Quick note: Last week you read this stupidly constructed sentence at the top of my column: “I recently expressed support for rail in a recent column ...”
My red-faced apologies, especially to all of my former English teachers out there.
I received some interesting e-mails from bus-riding readers who had their own suggestions for TheBus. Most were positive about their experiences but pointed out there is room for improvement.
Yvonne, who recently got her senior pass, commented about the recorded messages announcing the street names. She says they’re often garbled or too soft to hear. “One day I was on Kuhio on a double bus, sitting on the part where the two buses are joined, and was unable to see out any window or hear the street names as they were called out. The sound often doesn’t get to the back of the bus whether it’s a single or double. I had to ask someone in one of the regular seats where we were so I knew where to get off.”
One elderly couple said they love the convenience of the bus but often feel unsafe and uncomfortable at the bus stops. “Many of the stops are filthy, smell of urine, and have shopping carts with plastic bags full of junk and no place to sit. Yesterday we were approached by one man begging for money. One in particular that is the worst is the stop at King and Kalakaua Waikiki-bound. Once I went to sit on the bench and a homeless man was sleeping on the ground behind me with another sitting on the bench smoking. The smell is horrific. They are there every day. They even have a desk chair behind the bench that they sit in as well.
“Believe me I have 100 percent empathy for the homeless, and I would hope the city/county can assist them in any way possible. It just appears to me that when we are waiting for TheBus the homeless act as if we are invading ‘their’ space and make it very uncomfortable for us.”
A few riders pointed out that some of the drivers should be sent back to customer service school. Ron says, “Although most drivers are courteous, there are some that have no public service skills. When tourists or locals are asking if they stop at a certain stop, they just say “No” and not tell them what bus to catch. It’s embarrassing and rude. If you make more money than teachers, at least educate riders what bus to catch.”
I agree with this reader. Our aloha spirit has been a selling point, touted by the mayor and stressed as a priority by the folks who run TheBus. A few bad apples among your drivers can trash your best efforts and discourage countless people from coming back.
Most of the readers who wrote to me are hoping that as more people hop on board, the city will take note and address these legitimate concerns in order to turn the first-timers into true bus converts.
After watching the Democratic National Convention on cable (forget the major networks, they set records for political irrelevance. Were they even there?) I have come to the conclusion that next time I will watch C-Span or stick to PBS. The reason? Those pundits and so-called analysts yammering and hammering and trying really hard to turn the proceedings into the political equivalent of a trash-talking, pro wrestling smackdown.
“Give us red meat!” they yelled after Michelle Obama’s lovely speech.
“Hillary vs. Barack!” they speculated as they hunted down the three or four most die-hard PUMAs in the crowd of thousands of devoted Obamafans.
“Will Bill put aside his bitterness? Can the party come together?” they asked over and over and over, phony concerned looks on their faces as they ignored the loud and persistent declarations of unity from 98 percent of the delegates.
I think it’s important to ask the questions, but all that mindless repetition and narrow focus on the negative gets old.
Let’s face it, conflict makes for good TV. But, hey, this isn’t a movie or a sporting event, and this year’s election is way too important to trivialize with fake drama and artificial hype. The reality of this historic moment in time is dramatic enough, and compelling for watchers on both sides of the political spectrum.
Notice I didn’t say “political divide.” We’ve had enough of that.
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