Personal Responsibility in Transit

As always in the afternoon, I’m riding the bus… At the MARTA station, a man gets on and asks the driver what is the best way to get to the Gwinette DMV. The driver tells him to get off at the Buford Highway/Beaver Ruin Rd stop and transfer to the 30 bus (we are on the 10) and the 30 will take him there. So the guy says, “Tell me when I need to get off.” And the driver replies, “Sir, I can’t be responsible for every passenger’s destination, so just list for when I announce the Beaver Ruin Road stop and get off then.” The guy just nods his head and says, “You let me know.”

Of course, we get on up Buford Highway, the driver calls out that the next stop is Beaver Ruin Road and transfer to the 30 bus, and of course when the bus stops, the inquisitive passenger doesn’t get up. I wish I had been paying attention because I might have told the guy about his stop, but I was reading my book.

A few stops later, the guy gets up and asks the bus driver, “So how much longer until my stop?” “Which stop?” “I got to go to the DMV.” “Sir, I told you that you needed the Beaver Ruin Road stop, I announced it a while back. You must have missed it.” The guy stomps his feet, “You didn’t tell me to get off!” “Sir, I can’t be responsible for the destinations of every passenger, I told you the stop you needed, I announced the stop, it is not my fault you didn’t get off.” The guy is furious, he starts stomping some more and yelling obscenities and banging his hands on the hand rails.

The bus driver remains calm, “Sir, you have two choices, you can either stay on this bus and we will come back around to that stop in about a half hour or so; or you can get off at the next stop, cross the street and catch the southbound 10 and take it back to that stop.” The guy is screaming, “I don’t want to wait, I don’t want to switch buses! I wanted you to tell me when to get off this bus!” “I did.” “No you did not!”

This “Did not”/”Did too” argument went on for a while, then finally the guy decides he’s had enough of this “Nazi bus driver” and his “flagrant racism” and gets off the bus. The driver tell him he’ll need a transfer to which he replies, “You can take your transfer and shove it!” As we pull away the driver is shaking his head and says, “Now not only did he miss his stop, but he’s going to have to pay for the bus again.”

A couple of people behind me started talking in hushed tones about how mean the driver was being, and all I could think to myself was, “What?” Seriously, how hard is it to pay attention for your bus stop? And really, do you expect the driver to remember which stop thirty different people want to get off at and to individually remind them that it is time to get off? Sure, the driver could have done it, but I’ve ridden the bus with that driver before and he never does it, but he does clearly announce every stop, local destinations, transfers, and all that, which some drivers don’t.

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