As the bus heads downtown, more and more people board and fewer seats remain. In the middle of the line, however, musical chairs begins. Seniors spy a better seat across the aisle open up as someone departs now valuable real estate as the neighborhood they are sitting in is no longer attractive: teens are boisterous or playing music or games, a heavy person has squished them in, or their seat is too far from the door.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that we have seats on the mezzanine level which require juggling to step down, particularly if bags are being carried. All this makes it imperative to keep our large interior mirror set so we can see what’s going on in back. A quick start, or rough pavement creates a fall on board situation which leads to an accident report and shutting down the coach on the line.
A card laid is a card played is the best rule to prevent a fall, and stay put while the bus is moving.
Sliding Seats is a term Greyhound bus drivers use when changing operators. The phrase at Muni is making relief. I like the Greyhound term because that is how making relief feels. Many mid-day or twilight shifts begin at a relief point somewhere along the line, and not as a pull-out from the barn. We meet our bus and our coworker at the relief point. We slide seats as one shift ends and another begins.
This is actually one of the great things about being a bus driver. For most of the time we are in our own "boat." Captain of the ship so to speak, and we don't have to deal with office politics or the personality of our coworkers. The brief encounter we have sliding seats is the only contact we have with our brethren, and usually, a comment about the condition of the bus is all that is said. Usually. Sometimes it takes an heroic effort to get the bus to the relief point without going out-of-service. If they are bringing the bus late, it helps if they have already called Central Control to ask for, and receive, a switchback. Also, if a defect such as slow doors, no ring for a stop, or jammed fare box, which are not considered safety significant, can still be such a continuos intermittent distraction that over a long shift, can erode an operator's well being and lead to a passenger complaint.
This is where the diplomacy between coworkers has to be swift and concise. The more senior an operator, the easier to deal with and overcome a problem with the bus. On the other hand, some operators place ending the shift on time a higher need instead of dealing with a problem on the bus. If a bus has a problem, the rules call for securing the coach and waiting for the shop. This means a missed relief. I can be at the relief point and no bus comes. This is where the rules can be a hinderance or a help in keeping the headway stable with minimal disruption to service. We wait on the curb at the relief point until we see the run and bus behind us pull up. This operator can tell us if they saw our bus on the side of the road. We can then call the OCC (Operations Central Control) to ask for orders. This is when a cell phone comes in handy. We can also use the radio of the late bus, but this causes delay on a bus that now has no leader.
Should we wait for our bus, or go back to the barn and pull-out with a new bus? Only through the trial and error of coach defects, missed relief, time and location of relief, and OCC's orders, do we get a clearer picture of what to do when our bus is late or does not come at all.
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On a recent week the temperatures stayed above 90 degrees. And a funny thing happened in the news about Muni. Nothing. All surface trolleybuses stayed in service. There was no Muni Meltdown! Thanks to John Halley and Ed Reiskin's overseeing new trolley purchases we had no news, which is good news! We also have air conditioning in our new trolleys. It's like having a new job!
On my recent visit to NYC, I got to walk along an old elevated rail line.
Along the west side of Manhattan, an old rail line for produce delivery to the south end, has been converted to a walking trail. Here is a photo showing the old tracks covered over by the plantings for shade along the way.
Meet the MACK, a 1950's Motorcoach still in mint condition.
Just like Tom Hanks in Polar Express, we still made change and punched tickets.
These old toggles still work great and are a lot more durable than the knobs we have now: this was built to last.
Turn signal cowling on the 1969 GM Bus on display by Ferry Plaza on Muni Heritage Day 2019.
"To the moon Alice, to the moon."
These colors remain bold to this day.
A short video showing the diversity of Muni's historic streetcars by Ferry Plaza.
Check out the summer fog by the Golden Gate Bridge!
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