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I had an... interesting experience on the bus today. We all did, and now that I'm no longer headachey, starving and exhausted, I can see the humor in it. (Sort of.)

Common problem in NYC and I'm assuming most metro systems: people who sneak on without paying their fares. On the buses that means using the back doors which are supposed to be exits, thereby avoiding the fare collector at the front. Usually it's kids avoiding the fares, but they keep hiking up the fares on everyone so, yeah, it's more than a bit frustrating. For me, interestingly, the really frustrating thing for e is that we have to pay at all at point of sle. It should be tax-supported and free to use at point of service - it's simpy too inefficient to collect fare, have money on your card, police nonpayment, all of that. Plus it's essentially a flat tax for a public service, which I'm not at all cool with. Paying for the bus is justso damned inefficient, and that grates against my inner geek, particularly as work is now requiring two on-site days and it's looking like it's going up to three. I know, most people have to work in-person all the time, but there are little costs you just absorb when you work for a small firm, and the flexibility to work mostly from home was a big part of what balanced that out. So I was ... primed to be frustrated over the fares, no doubt.

So the fare's going up and it stinks, bu,t on top of that we had a bus driver who's really an idiot and inconsiderate or ... something. Some people snuc onto the bus and he took the opportunity "remind" the whole bus that the fare was going up and it was all because of those people who just snuck on and would keep going up as long as peole snuck on like that. The next stop, when people tried to get off the back he refused to open the back door and made people walk up to the front to exit, insisting it was for our protection so more punks didn't sneak on, and finally when a woman didn't have enough exact change and had to ask around for it, he called her out over the intercom and said we'd all wait for her - he refused to drive the bus until she'd gotten the money and come up to pay.

This man was fixated to the point of it being ebarrassing. I think he felt disrespected and like his litle bit of power was stripped from him. I know when you don't have a lot of power you hang on to that little bit. And it was... pitiful, really, at the end of the day. But I think what upset me and what I feel this compulsion to laugh at was how divisive it was. The problem isn't an inefficient system, or an administration that seemed unwilling to provide any kind of justice ("we're not going to make sure everyone pays their share, we're just going to turn the loss back on the people who are already doing what they're supposed to"). The point, so far as it had a point, was to get us blaming the wrong people or it seemed that way to me.

Which is just... frustrating, really. bsurd, laid out this way, butit did fee almost like shades of The Hunger Game's "remember who the real enemy is." Nowhere to that degree, but the basic problem of divide-and-conquer seemed reminiscent, and I found it wrong enough to want to walk up and hit the bus driver, because it was ludicrous and over the top but still wrong, what he was doing. Really wrong. It's such a little thing, and he was so ludicrous, but there was a baseline violence to this whole move that really got under y skin, I think.

Or maybe I'm just overreacting. As I said, a long day.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 4th, 2015 03:13 am (UTC)
He was just being a petty tyrant, is all. And you are right, it's shades of dystopia.
Mar. 4th, 2015 03:25 am (UTC)
That would have driven me crazy too! The time it takes for people to pay the fare on NYC buses is fairly ludicrous. Everyone creating a bottle neck at the front of the bus at least every other block and, on some routes, every block. It's a mess. The fares are high enough that if there are three people in a party or even two sometimes--it's as cheap or cheaper to take a taxi. Something is wrong with that picture.

Edited at 2015-03-04 03:26 am (UTC)
Mar. 4th, 2015 04:57 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm glad I'm not the only New Yorker with this problem! I usually travel alone, but I do see a lot more people going around in small groups via cabs than I once did. The inefficiency is pretty bad these days, much more so even than when I came in NY back in 2008.

It's not so much the wait that kills me, though, it's the sense of the city trying to make money off of people who make honest mistakes. Inflexible approaches to fines, more policing to make sure folks actually paid their fare, all of that. I don't know what changed, if something changed, but there seems something fairly rotten in the MTA these days, and I don't think it's that kid sneaking in the back door. :-S
Mar. 4th, 2015 05:09 am (UTC)
We take car services all the time in Brooklyn now, because it is so expensive to take public transportation that its cheaper to call a car for short distances. And a hell of lot more comfortable. It's means more cars on the streets, which is not good in the long run.
Mar. 5th, 2015 04:49 am (UTC)
If you want a comparison, bus fares in Taipei are about 8-15 NTD a trip, depending on your age and status (senior citizens cheaper than students and soldiers cheaper than out of school adults, for example), which is about half a US dollar. I don't know how the price was determined, though.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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