Saturday, April 26, 2008

Who will be impacted by a Fare Hike?

I wasn't surprised to see this story in the TU. According to the article, CDTA hasn't raised their fares since 1995 -- wow! Of course, they restructured the fares not so long ago when they phased out oh-so-20th-century transfers in favor of the very cool $3 day cards. Apparently the revenue earned from that change isn't enough to cover increasing costs and demand for service.

Too bad it's not looking like service will be expanding soon, because there sure is a need. One recent Sunday evening at about 7:20, I was waiting for a bus by the
View Larger Map'>Hannaford on Central Avenue. As usual, I had given myself very little wiggle room, and I was supposed to be at my daughter's friend's house off of New Scotland Avenue near the intersection of View Larger Map'>Ontario St. and New Scotland Avenue by 8:00. The bus was late. I must say, I've found late buses to be unusual during my travels around Albany. Not that it doesn't happen -- it does. Finally, at about 7:35, a 55 came chugging down Central Avenue, I wasn't expecting a 1 since after 6:40 p.m. on Sundays, it's almost 5 hours before another bus is scheduled to get to the Northway Mall stop at 11:20!

The bus was PACKED.
I got on, but there was no room behind the "yellow" line. The bus just sat there. Those of us who had boarded at Hannaford were trying to squeeze in. Now, where I come from -- this is not an issue, as one of my fellow new passengers and I were telling the people, "I'm from New York, there's plenty of room." You see, in NYC, there's an understanding that sometimes you need to "make like sardines in a can and squish together", it's only temporary, and it will get you where you need to go. That's not the philosophy, however as you travel north along the Hudson. People on the bus started yelling at us, "Get off the bus, I need to go home!" I asked if the bus was always this crowded, simultaneously, I got 2 opposing answers. "No," said the bus driver, "Not my bus!" and "Yes," from a bus rider...I turned to the bus driver (who looked a wee bit stressed), and asked if I should get off the bus. She explained to me that, at this point the issue was that she couldn't leave the bus stop while there was a person in a wheel chair waiting to get on.

Yes, that's right. There was a woman in a wheel chair who had been waiting for the bus, but there was absolutely no room for her. The bus is not allowed to pull away while there's a wheel-chair bound person waiting to board. So the driver had called her supervisor and was waiting for instructions. That's why the bus wasn't moving. I asked if CDTA would send a STAR bus for her, the driver said that she didn't think so, but didn't know.

Feeling guilty about trying to squeeze myself onto the bus while someone waited in her wheel chair on the sidewalk, I got off, called to say I'd be a bit late, and waited on the sidewalk to see what happened. It wasn't too long before a supervisor showed up and told the bus driver to leave. It was already after 7:40 and another bus would be along "soon" to pick up the woman in the wheelchair. Soon, according to the schedule, meant departing Northway Mall at 8:03. Given that the bus that departs Northway Mall at 8:03 was scheduled to reach Central and Allen at 8:11 --it seemed to me that I'd be more productive walking. Since my friend in the wheel chair had the attention of the CDTA supervisor, I decided to get walking.

It was 8:06 when I got to the corner of View Larger Map'>Central Avenue and Ontario Street and turned to walk towards New Scotland Avenue. If I had waited for the bus... I'd still have been waiting for the bus! Saved time. Got some exercise. I hope that supervisor made sure my friend boarded the next bus, or gave her a ride if there wasn't room.

No comments: