Tuesday, June 22, 2004

COMMUTING: Almost Hit By a 30 Bus; Getting Scolded for Coinage Issues

I have another reason to dislike the crosstown 30 series buses. One almost hit me last night when I was crossing at Q Street and Wisconsin Avenue. I was with a group of friends trying to reach the 24-hour Georgetown Cafe around midnight (one friend was leaving town ... not much to do on Monday night), but because of roadwork associated with The Georgetown Project, the closest sidewalk was shut down. Only one lane was open, meaning cars were weaving between traffic cones and construction equipment and over large metal plates potholes.

As we tried to navigate our way around the mess, we crossed the street as suggested by the construction workers. All the sudden, out of nowhere, a 30 bus was hauling ass (perhaps to get back on schedule?) and attempted to claim the intersection for itself. As we were already in the intersection and pedestrians have the right-of-way in such instances, you would expect the bus to come to a halt. But the bus kept coming. Then someone yelled. It wasn't stopping. And then it did.

Scolded for Stuck Coins. Live from the Third Rail celebrated the arrival of SmarTrip readers on the 42 bus. While the electronic readers are a great improvement, those who are technologically challenged and will rely on putting in exact change to make their fare, may have some trouble with the new fare card collectors. The coin slots are smaller, and their covers are made of some sort of cheap plastic.

As I was boarding a 90 bus at Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue, I found myself having trouble putting my 35 cent transfer into the collector. There were already coins stuck in the coin chute and the bus driver, who was running 10 minutes behind schedule, became frustrated with me fiddling around and then scolded me for putting coins in at the same time. He told me to retrieve the coins from the coin return and I found a whole host of coins that were stuck from past passengers.

So the fare collectors may be hi-tech, but don't do well with coins.


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