Saturday, November 24, 2007


I've been driving the new hybrid buses lately. Overall, I like them. They have a couple drawbacks but the good features override the bad.

My first complaint was that there was no "peanut seat". That is the seat next to the front door where the people that like to sit and chat with the driver always sit. There is a big wheel well there now because they are low floor steps to walk up to get on. I was feeling sorry for myself one day because I really had no one to chat with all day. Then on my last trip a guy got on on my layover. He was really annoying. To me, the layover is a chance to have a few minutes to myself and I sometimes need that. This guy got on, dressed like a nut, and I tried to read the paper and ignore him. He kept babbling about stupid stuff and expected a response. I was getting irritated because I wanted to read a couple articles before it was time to go. He went on and on so I gave up and spoke with him. After I got on my route, he just kept going. Babbling on from the area behind the wheel well which is a good 5-6 feet away. I greeted passengers and called my streets as I tried to ignore him. Then I realized... God was showing his sense of humor.
Here I was mentally whining to myself all day about not having someone to talk to and he sent this guy for me to see how that could be a GOOD thing!

I am predicting a double digit increase in fall down accidents on these new hybrids. When you put your foot on the gas... it actually takes off. It's quite a bit faster than the old buses. This can actually slow you down as you wait for the older or less mobile people to get a seat before you take off.

The back door is my other pet peeve. It seems to take twice as long to close. If you take your foot off the brake before the door closes, you have to reapply the brake and release it for the bus to go. It's something to get used to.

My last gripe, OK actually there are two. We need the little round convex mirror put onto the drivers side mirror...easy enough. The not-so-easy fix is the lack of room for stuff by the drivers left elbow on the ledge. It is full of switches and stuff. In the old buses, you can string a couple rubber bands around and make a space to hold things. I have a zippered pouch that I keep things I may need quickly...pens,Kleenex, forms for someone that overpays, papers that explain the stroller policy and the papers that state that proper ID is REQUIRED for mobility fares ( I use that one quite a bit). I'm still figuring out a fix for that one.

On the good side, they have 90% ...that's NINETY PERCENT!!!....less emissions. They are quieter. The passenger side mirror is electric. They are new, so they still smell good. They have the flat cushion graffiti resistant seats. I like the flat cushions so kids can't cut them open and mess with the stuffing. The passengers prefer the cushioned seats but the flat ones are just more cost effective...less damage to fix. It does kind of make me laugh that they consider them graffiti resistant. True, the seats have a wild design on them that makes kids less likely to put their tag on them, but if you stand in the back of the bus and look forward you see all the backs of the seats that are plain grey...perfect for graffiti. Guess you can't win them all.

The hybrids also have more and better cameras. There are 5 cameras and they are digital. They cover areas of the bus the others didn't. That should be very helpful.

Another bonus is the fold out lift for wheelchairs, walkers or whoever needs it. It is quicker and if it breaks, you can fold it out manually. That's a big plus. No more waiting for mechanics to fix your lift while some poor soul is stuck on it or in the bus.

The ride is much smoother and the buses are neat looking. There are less seats, but that is usually only a problem during rush least on the routes I drive.

For those of you that are local, check them out! Park your car and do yourself and the environment a favor... GO HYBRID!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I am SO glad I don't have to work today. It's not just great to be able to spend the day with some of my close family pigging out on delicious food and watching the Packer game ... Vikings aren't playing, that would make it even better if they were! ... but I hate working on holidays because it can be sad.

I remember working on Thanksgiving Day before. At first I thought it was great. No traffic. Hardly anyone on the bus. Nice kick-back kind of day...not to mention being paid double pay for it. Then it got sad. I started feeling sorry for myself for not being able to be with my family. I got out of my self-absorbed pity when it got worse and I saw what was around me. I got homeless people that had no where to go and no one that cared. I also got a Veteran who was looking for somewhere to go "celebrate" with a nice dinner. I tried to mentally picture each block on my entire route and where this man could go enjoy a nice Thanksgiving Dinner. There was nothing. I told him there was a Perkins or Dennys on other routes I hooked up with but he didn't want that and decided to just go back home.

If you are enjoying this Thanksgiving in the company of family/friends ... you truly have something to be thankful for.

The food is just a bonus.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I was standing outside swapping stories with some other bus drivers the other day. A driver came out of the office all pissed off. Seems he was put on a record of warning for his poor attendance record. The kicker was, the last occurrence was due to a dead guy on his bus.

The driver said he was driving the bus and noticed a guy seemed to be breathing strangely. The guy got up and walked to the front of the bus. Just before he got to the driver, he extended one hand toward the driver and seemed to try and say something. Next thing the driver knew, the guy collapsed onto the floor. The driver called for help, stopped the bus and got up to check on the guy. He said he had his hand on the guys back and could feel his body rise and fall with each breath. Suddenly, the guy was still. He had stopped breathing. A passenger that knew CPR came to help but the guy was dead by the time the ambulance got there.

The driver was pretty shaken by this traumatic event and took a couple days off. Then the company charged him with an occurrence and thus the record of warning came up.

I really hope they take this guy off the record of warning. I'm sure if I saw someone drop dead in front of me, I'd like a little time off. I'm sure my mind wouldn't be on the road or the job. In fact, they should REQUIRE the driver to get off the road.
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