Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

#4 southbound, Iroquois Park, in the morning

There was a man on the bus with a Christmas tree -- one of those boxes you buy an artificial tree in. It was a 7.5 foot Douglas fir and the box took up the two sideways seats behind the driver and part of the first seat facing front, plus the space in between. There was a big yellow image on the box indicating it takes two people to carry it. How in the world did the man get the tree on the bus? And where was he coming from at 7:15 in the morning with an artificial Christmas tree?

Friday, November 19, 2010

#4 - northbound, after work

The bus hesitated at 4th & York, even though we had a green light, no one had pulled the cord, and no one was waiting at the stop. The crosswalk was flashing orange. The bus pulled through the light and then stopped on the other side, within sight of the next stop -- my stop -- at 4th & Broadway. The driver had been talking to a passenger and told him the buses weren't allowed to be more than three minutes early to a stop. I can't get there four minutes early - only three. So we waited for a minute before she pulled up to the stop.

Apparently, the rule is the bus can't be more than 3 minutes early but can be 30 minutes late?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We had a meeting this afternoon scheduled from 3-4:30. Fortunately, it ended by 3:40. I had brought my bag and coat with me so headed out to the bus stop. I was a block away when I saw the # 4 drive through the intersection.

I walked a few blocks north on 4th Street since I had about 10 minutes to kill and waited at the Lee Street stop -- there's a bench and decorative planters with blossoming flowers in them. I remembered the last time I waited at that stop. There was a man with a bicycle sitting on the steps of the house right behind the stop. He started to tell me some story involving the convenience store down the street. He lost my sympathy when he got to the "them bitches" part. Supposedly, he had asked for directions from some women in a car and they called the police. Or something. I saw that man about 3 more times in a short period of time, including once downtown, and then haven't seen him again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

#4 - southbound

I was 1/2 block away from the bus stop when I realized I had forgotten my phone at home. And I was expecting a call later that day. I walked home the 2 blocks, took the elevator up, walked down the hall, grabbed the phone, walked down the hall, took the elevator down, and walked back towards the bus stop.

A young woman in a head scarf got out of the back seat of a car parked on the side of the road and asked me for help. I took my headphones off as she held up a cell phone and asked if I knew where this place was -- the phone had the Kentucky Convention Center and its address on the screen. We were on Jefferson just past 6th Street. The Convention Center is on 4th Street. Unfortunately, Jefferson is one-way going west. I told her they needed to go around the block and drive up (or down) 4th Street (depending on which way they turned) and it would be at the corner, but I couldn't remember what the cross street was. Turns out, I think it's at 4th & Jefferson. She thanked me and I started to walk on. Then she called me back and gave me a piece of candy. Thanks!

# 4 - northbound

It was chilly, windy, and rainy. The bus was stopped at the light at 4th & Magnolia when a man on a bicycle approached from the west. I thought at first he was just crossing in front of us, but he was trying to board the bus. At the light, which is not a bus stop. For some reason it was moved up half a block, which always confuses people. The driver honked a few times, but, really, what do you do when a man stops in front of your bus? We sat through the light at least twice while he carried on a Queen Anne's Cordial Cherry box that was collapsing from the weight of the black trash bag inside or because of the water (the larger packing box that would hold the individual boxes for sale). He put the box on the shelf behind the driver's seat, and then he got off to hook the bike to the rack in front. The bicycle had curved handlebars.

I got off at 4th & Broadway and walked to the Y wondering why I hadn't just stayed on the bus where it was dry and slightly warm. At 3rd & Chestnut, the 60-cent woman asked me for money. She had a plastic scarf on her head and was pushing her bicycle.

After the Y, I met R. outside his office and we walked home. My jeans were wet from earlier so I kept my gym-capris on. It was about 40 degrees, windy, and a little rainy. 4th Street Live was blocked off and checking IDs, which I try to avoid on principle (seriously, it's 6:30 at night and I'm just trying to walk home), so we went around. A man stopped us on the sidewalk on Muhammad Ali just past 4th Street. He was holding car keys. Excuse me... Can I ask you something... Now I'm not one of those bums...

I interrupted, seeing where this going.* I'm sorry, but it's cold, and I want to go home. We continued walking. You have to get to your Ask faster, especially when the weather is bad. I just finished an hour of Pi-Yo and my legs are bare. Speed it up. A few blocks later at 6th Street just south of Jefferson, I saw the same man in front of us as we cut through Jefferson Park. He walked over to the courthouse. This morning I felt a little guilty for not listening to him because maybe he really did have car trouble, but I seriously doubt it.

* The other week, we sat outside our building for a little bit after cleaning out the trunk of the car. R. had a blue tarp and I held a red dirt devil hand vacuum. A man approached us with a similar opening as the man from last night. He had a story about his car breaking down and Glassworks wanting him to get it out of their lot and he had used the last of his money to repair the leaking fuel tank and now needed gas money to get back to Lexington. R. directed him to the travelers assistance center a few blocks away, which will give you cash for just this type of situation. The man said he'd head back to the convention center and see if he could call someone. A few minutes later, we saw him stop a man on the other side of the light, the opposite direction of the convention center.

As an aside, there is not an official Glassworks parking lot -- there are a few lots around the building but they are run by companies contracted with the city. All they will do if your car is there is give you a ticket for not pre-paying for your space. Maybe, eventually, they'd tow you, but you probably have to get a few tickets first, and his car had only been there overnight. Also, there are no gates at the lots, so you could just drive off and not pay the tickets if you happened to be here from out-of-town and weren't concerned about getting caught later.

Monday, November 15, 2010

#4 - northbound, noon

I left work at noon because I had an appointment at 1 p.m. The bus was scheduled to arrive at 12:09 -- it was more like 12:12. On the bus was the woman with three young kids I used to see on my other bus when I lived in a different neighborhood. At that time, she had a boy and girl. Today she had the older girl and a younger girl. And a big stroller. Another woman got on with a backpack with wheels and a handle. The bus was relatively crowded, but there were a few empty seats.

A few stops later, a couple got on a with a young girl. The mom sat with the girl behind me who asked  
Where are we going? The mom told her we were on the bus.
Why are we stopped?
We have to pick the other people up. 

An elderly woman in a wheelchair boarded the bus. She had a white fur coat, a red-black-and-gold hat, and an electric wheelchair. Everyone in the front set of seats, including a young woman on crutches, had to move. One woman, with three bags of groceries, sat next to the woman with the two girls and offered to hold one of the girls in her lap. The driver told the mom that the stroller needed to be moved so that the elderly woman had room to turn her wheelchair around. I don't know where to put it, she said a few times, before someone else offered to hold it in the aisle.

Two stops later, a woman with a full shopping cart started to board the bus. Then she turned around and got off.

For the rest of the trip, the little girl behind me cried out whenever the bus stopped at a light or bus stop: Uh-oh, we aren't going. Go, schoolbus, go! When the bus started moving again, she cried Whee, we're going fast!

The elderly woman, the mom with the stroller, and a bunch of other people got off at 4th & Broadway. Bye, people! The little girl behind me cried.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#4 - northbound

Have you ever seen a Doberman seeing-eye dog before? A college-aged man got on the bus at my stop with a Doberman as either a vision-assistance dog or for another service-assistance need. The dog was huge but very well behaved. Quieter and took up less space than the yellow lab seeing-eye dog I've seen on the bus before with a different college-aged man. The lab sits kind of in the aisle but the doberman was under the front side row of seats. The young man had multiple piercings in his eyebrow and wore a Delta Upsilon t-shirt. A woman on the bus with a huge walking shopping cart seemed to know him or at least she talked like she knew him.

As an aside, those carts are really impractical. When they're empty, they fold flat but long, so that's awkward on the bus unless you can use that front area where people put their grocery bags or strollers. When it's full, it's deep and wide and too big for that front area and too big to tuck next to you. It only seems to be useful for the time when you're walking from the bus home with groceries. Someone needs to design a better cart.

Two young women stood across the street at the corner of 4th & Broadway by the Brown Hotel. One had a camera, and the other had a trumpet. The one with the trumpet posed with the instrument to her mouth while the other took pictures. A car drove by and the driver looked over and yelled something. [Something clever I'm sure. I've never heard anything more than "Woo-hoo!" or variations of before.]

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

#4 - southbound

The driver and a passenger talked politics. This'll be Abramson's last Light Up Louisville, the passenger said. It was his last Derby, too. [Last hike-n-bike, too, I suppose. The man is running for lieutenant governor next year, however. It's not like he's crawling into a hole.]

Then the passenger and another man started talking about the fire* on 4th Street. Debris was on the sidewalk in front of the check-cashing place, which actually closed a couple months ago. There may or may not have been damage to the beauty salon [Miss Kay's] and barbershop on either side. The Chinese restaurant at the corner looked fine. By the afternoon, the debris was gone, and the check-cashing place's windows were boarded up.

* They said there was a fire, but I did not see anything in the news. If there was, something happened Monday evening or early, early Tuesday, because there was nothing amiss when the bus went by Monday afternoon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

# 4 - northbound

A man got on at 4th & Oak and loudly said, I think I'll sit right here or something to that effect. He was in the front side row of seats. Then he looked out the window and laughed at the guy outside being questioned by the police*. As the bus drove on, the man drank from his bottle of Diet Pepsi and said to no one in particular Some people are just crazy. A few stops later, he said Hey Maryann! Hi Phillip! as a man and woman got on the bus. Are you going to the next NAMI meeting? They chatted until the first man got off the bus one or two stops later. After he exited, Maryann said to Phillip, I thought he was in the hospital.

* A man was sitting on the low wall around the church at the corner of 4th & Oak with two police cars parked by the curb next to him. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bus, bike, or permit

From the local newspaper (the Courier Journal): University of Louisville seeking 'greener' profile

  • "A new survey shows that only 6 percent of students, faculty and staff actually use TARC for commuting."
  • The university wants to reduce greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020 and 40% by 2030
  • U of L study found that commuting accounted for 9% of the university's greenhouse gas emissions
  • University looking at "low-hanging fruit:" "That includes reducing the number of small refrigerators and space heaters on campus and improving bicycle and pedestrian flow." [No comment on use of space heaters, la la la]
  • Financial incentives to get people to walk or bike: free bike if you don't get a parking permit?
  • Students say TARC is impractical - long wait times for transfers, safety concerns at stops at night

I do not have a parking pass and have not had one the entire time I've worked here. Sometimes, but very rarely, I park in the museum garage and pay $6 for the day. I agree that TARC riding can be impractical and difficult. If I have a doctor's appointment, I try to schedule it for first thing in the morning or last thing in the day. Otherwise, I lose too much time getting from work to the appointment and back again. Once, when I took two buses on my commute, my transfer was an hour late (or it never showed and I just got the one that came an hour later). I could have walked home, but it was pouring, pouring rain, so I huddled under a bank's overhang.

Have I mentioned my love for ZipCars (or other car-sharing programs) yet? I have not used the service before but really want to. Except it doesn't exist here, although it is on a number of other university campuses. A friend of mine who recently moved to the DC-area gave up his car and takes the bus or Metro to work and uses Zipcar (located on campus) for other errands and appointments. No car payment, no fuel costs, no parking permit for home or work.

I'm interested to see what the university comes up with in terms of incentives. Carrot or stick? More buy-in to help TARC meet the needs of the community? As for the possibility of a free bike, I'm not sure I would use one to ride to work unless there were much better bike lanes, but I certainly would not turn down a free bike.

See Jonathan Richman's "You're Crazy for Taking the Bus." [He's singing about the Greyhound type, but still]

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 4, 2010

#4 southbound, Southland Park

This morning there were two university students with interesting hair. I've seen them both before but I don't know that I've seen them on the same bus. One sat right in front of me and the other sat diagonally in front of her. Staring at the back of their heads, I realized that maybe I don't focus on how the back of my hair looks enough. Girl #1 has layers that are styled so that her hair has a stylized windblown look, as though the wind blew against the back of her head and pushed the hair forward but in a very neat and non-messy way. Girl #2 had a modernized seventies-punk shag style that was dyed a shade of tangerine.


I haven't heard any election talk on the bus this week. It was interesting during the campaign period to see ads for a House candidate on the back of some buses -- or maybe it was the same route, as I always only saw the ad on a bus at 8th & Jefferson. That candidate lost. No ads inside the buses.

Will the new mayor bring wireless to the buses? Do we care? On my bus routes, riders seem to be divided among 1) people who have 3G phones and don't need wi-fi, 2) people who don't have laptops or phones with Internet capability, and 3) people who don't care (or people who don't have cell phones). Perhaps other routes are different. I'd rather see a focus on replacing all older buses with hybrids and improving the schedule -- having the buses run more frequently, redeveloping the routes that were cut, and having the buses run on time.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

# 4 - northbound after work

Greyhound driver. The bus was about 4 minutes late, which means I caught it 8 minutes earlier than I planned. I was already on the bus when a man in the back yelled to the driver to wait up. A woman scurried up to the bus and boarded. Then the man in back yells, Hey, sweetheart!

Wouldn't you like to board a bus just to be minorly sexually harrassed? Turns out, he recognized a different woman on the bus and went up to sit with her and talk.

Then another man yelled Hey, sweetheart...girl in the purple hat. Now my hat was grey, but the woman in the purple hat two seats in front of me turned around and glared and then ignored him the rest of the ride. I kept my headphones on.

Along the ride, a few more good samaritans notified the driver of people running to catch the bus. When the bus is late, I'm personally against stopping because the odds are the person was actually early for the next bus. But in the world of TARC, you can't be sure if there is a next bus. And I'm always grateful when the driver waits for me, so I should accept the courtesy extended to others.

Friday, October 29, 2010

# 4 - northbound after work

Same driver from Wednesday. When I got on the bus, I noticed his fancy chauffeur's cap (is there a better word for that?), but it had a greyhound pin on it. I then noticed he was wearing a tie and vest or jacket. Is this how bus drivers dress up for Halloween?

Later in the ride, he came back to the front seats to help a passenger in a wheelchair get off the bus. The elderly woman in front of me, and right behind the wheelchair, asked the driver, Do you work for the Hound?

I do when I finish here, he said.

Turned out that after his shift ended, he was going to drive a Greyhound bus to Atlanta. I'm impressed with two jobs and they certainly require similar skill sets, but that's a lot of driving.