NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday October 23rd 2018

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Metro Transit New fareboxes for old

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

The story of “Aladdin’s Lamp” contains the phrase, “New lamps for old!” Well, two of my bus-riding experiences last month make me think of “New fareboxes for old!”

The first one was on Route 10, Central Avenue Northeast. The bus had a new, very sophisticated farebox. There was even a smart card reader integrated with the farebox; however, it wasn’t in use. There was a regular Go-To Card reader by the front door, as usual. I have reason to believe this was an unannounced test and these new fareboxes may be in our future.

The second one was on Route 70, East Side of Saint Paul. It was one of the old buses from the 1980s, a type rarely seen anymore. It has the padded seats and the windows that actually opened so you could feel the breeze on your face, not just the vents up above your head. Of course it was a high-floor model, so you had to climb three steps to enter or exit. On the other hand, there were more seats than on modern buses, and there were actually seats close enough to the driver that you could actually have a conversation with him or her. As a transit fanatic, I loved the opportunity to talk to bus drivers about the industry. Unfortunately, that space on today’s low-floor buses is taken up by the wheel wells. This puts the kibosh on chit-chatting with drivers, but does provide a flat surface to place extra packages on. Change often both brings and takes away good things.

Franklin Avenue Follies

My roommate and I went to the last Alley transition meeting on the Route 2 bus. Because there was construction on the bridge over I-35W, we waited 25 minutes for a bus that was supposed to come every 13 minutes, and on the way back we had to endure parent-child dysfunction at the bus stop. As one who did my bit for continuing the human species 25 years ago, I understand what it’s like to have to use public transit with small children, strollers, and other paraphernalia of the “entourage”. Perhaps buses, taxis, emergency and government vehicles, and construction equipment should get priority when construction slows down traffic.

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