Move That Bus

Crowd waiting for rider to drive inactive bus

The 57 bus.  What can I say?  Forty-five stops in five-and-a-half miles of Brighton, Allston, Newton, and Watertown.  One stop for every 650 feet.  In traffic.  It isn’t exactly the kind of ride that anyone really looks forward to.

But the 57 gets riders.  Lots of riders.  One might think that would prompt the T to emphasize frequent, reliable operations.

Why then, does the T allow excessive numbers of riders to accumulate at peak hours, waiting for that bus?  The T’s foot-dragging seems doubly strange when there is both an inactive bus and a driver waiting at the 57’s origin in Kenmore Square, just waiting … waiting … waiting for … I’m not sure, just waiting.  Ten minutes, fifteen ….

This picture was taken on a Tuesday evening at 9:15 p.m., at Kenmore square.  This was the scene for perhaps 20 minutes (that I personally saw); I would guess that the earliest arrivals were waiting at least 40 minutes.  The group in the picture (which continued to form for some time) is actually quite large; the people are standing right up to the edge of the curb, and not exclusively for the view of the inactive bus directly in front of them.  The erstwhile bus driver was sipping a latte, taking it all in.  And this was (according the the Red Sox recap) about an hour before the end of the game.  This was not part of the post-game rush.

The run at 9:12 p.m. run obviously was dropped.  It seems very doubtful as well that the 8:52 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. routes ever left the station either.  If they occurred, they certainly failed to accommodate everyone who was waiting for the bus at those times.  At least two other empty (or nearly empty) buses went through the station while the group was waiting.  One was “Out of Service,” and the other was running a route that no one apparently was riding.

Eventually the loitering bus driver restarted the bus, marked it as the 57, and pulled it to the curb.  The driver must have been scheduled for the 9:24 p.m. run.  Never mind that the three preceding runs of the 57 bus never happened.  It was a cozy ride with the large group that had gathered to wait, made more unpleasant by the over-earnest warnings of a second T employee who urged packed-in riders to stand behind the yellow line or else.

In another context, for another agency, this would be a sign of part of an organization headed in the wrong direction, unable to motivate employees to provide critical services in an appropriate manner.  But for the T, unfortunately, it is another night of business as usual.  At least on the 57 bus.

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