Monday, June 9, 2008

There Is A God Of Mercy And Justice

With Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) new Metro Area eXpress (MAX) premium express bus service to launch next Monday (June 16), HRT has been trying to promote it. I've volunteered to help, working at transfer centers the last three weekdays. This morning made for a trip that regular HRT riders would realize beat the odds, while it proves that existing bus service isn't as bad as the common public perception.


According to the original game plan, HRT was to be at 19th Street & Pacific Avenue (Virginia Beach) on Monday morning. I was sent an e-mail at 2:20 A.M., which I read at 5:55 A.M., telling me it would be the Newport News Transportation Center (NNTC) instead. That sent me scrambling to shower, get dressed, and make it to the bus stop within thirty minutes. Even then, the odds were stacked against me actually making it to NNTC by 9 A.M.

20 Inbound

Getting to the bus stop about 6:15 A.M, I was told the 6 A.M. Cutback had just come past. That would mean I would need the regular 20 Inbound, which would leave me no room for error.

The 20 arrived about six minutes late, having had to pick up someone in a wheelchair. The driver pushed it, making it to the Military Circle Direct Transfer Center (DTC) a couple minutes early.

15 Outbound

I then needed the 15 from Military Circle to Wards Corner, a bus that is chronically late at rush hour. We pulled out slightly late, yet made it to Evelyn Butts a couple minutes early. Despite
having to stop at five consecutive bus stops on Military Highway, we still reached Wards Corner on time.

Route 61

The soon-to-be-discontinued 61 was five minutes late arriving at Wards Corner. Surprisingly, there were only 11 passengers going to the Peninsula. (I've seen twice that many at midday.) Paula Miller, with her House of Delegates tags, passed us on Willoughby Spit.

We arrived in Newport News about seven minutes late.


Bus regulars could tell you I shouldn't have been able to do the above. There were too many things that could have gone wrong that didn't. Then, that shows that our transit system can actually work.

I go to Hampton Tuesday morning. I'll leave a one bus cushion, not risking getting lucky again.


Unknown said...

Henry, if that's an example of the bus system working, I think I see the problem.

Michael Ragsdale said...

Nope, shouldn't have made it. Wing and a prayer and a dash of pure luck. What was the bus number for the 20 with the 10-16? This will tell me if the ramp/lift was in decent shape. In general, systemwide:

* Rustbuckets: crappy lift, but very quick & easy to get strapped in/out
* Trolleys: don't ask, you don't want to know (it's that bad - no, worse than that)
* Electric (NET) Bus: inaccessible to motorized 10-16s (isn't that illegal?); very steep ramp due to no kneeling - driver MUST assist passenger on and off
* 500: worst lift in system - feels like bus will tip over. Restraints are strange, early version of 1200 with a hint-o-Rustbucker
* 1200 Phantom: lift depends on wear. 2nd best bus to be hooked in to
* 1200 Lowfloor: ramps are decent. Restraint is just like Phantom with a wonderful car-like seatbelt system
* 1300, 1500, 1600: depends on age - ramp can be a pain. 1300 Restraint just like 1200 Lowfloor. 1500 and 1600 restraint just like 1700.
* 1400: ramps ok (not greatest). Restraints can be pain
* 1700, 1800: lifts are usually good, restraints can be a pain. Might need to play with before 10-16 is "parked" to allow proper seatbelt usage
* 1900, 2000: Wonderful ramp. Restraint is just like 1700 or 1800 Phantom (disclaimer: I've never been a 10-16 on a 2000)
* 4000: Ramps just like 1400. Restraints just like 2000 except outer brace folds insteads of slides. Disclaimer: I've never been a 10-16 on the Hybrids

Avenging Archangel said...


A rustbucket: Bus 940.


Once the MAX comes online, that three bus trip becomes a two bus trip with greater frequencies.

Michael Ragsdale said...

Ah, you lucked out on the 20. One of the somewhat decent rustbuckets. Somewhat decent lift and (if the restraints aren't broken) very quick to secure the 10-16.