Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Y49 TDP. Story 1

Born and raised in Europe, scared of driving, each year I tell myself : next year I am going to apply for the driver license …

The thing is that I never had to consider driving a car before I came to live in Pittsburgh. And now , that my family is here and I became a long-term resident of the city , I am still trying to postpone the day when I will get my driver’s license and really get behind a car’s wheel …but it is hard to tell how long I will be able to use public transportation instead. Even though I do not have to work past 8pm; I can negotiate my start time and I can find a travel alternatives (read: car) for weekend mornings and late evenings when there is no bus service.

While I was postponing the day when I would finally have to go through with the exam for the driver’s license, I tried to choose wisely the area to call home. A few years ago when I moved in, whilst it had the advantages of nice suburbia, it still offered several public transportation options . But things got worse, and I hope to be able to say one day that they only got worse before they got better. After all this is what the Transit Development Plan is for. It is supposed to improve the public transportation system in Pittsburgh.
How did the TDP work out for me? This is my story.

To get from the South Side Works, where my work is, to the intersection of Prospect and E Willock Rd, where home is, on an Saturday morning or a week day’s evening used to be quite an adventure.

I had to change three buses. After 8 pm on a weekday, it used to be 51A, 51C and 35A and, if I missed the 51A, I had to sprint down to the 18th to catch the 51C. If a got there just a few minutes late and I missed my 35A connection, I had to add another mile to my walk home. A pleasant, healthy exercise except for those months when the weather reports are "frost and snow". And, of course, it was during those snowy cold months when bus real timetables varied most and the chance that I miss my connection to the next ride increased ...
IT was during one of those snowy days that I got to ride in a vehicle that, I hope, I’ll never get to ride in again. It was a dog day evening with freezing snow hitting the ground and the 35A never made it to the bottom of Stilley road, so I decided to walk. By the time I got one quarter mile up the road I could already feel frost in my bone marrows as I started stumbling against the wind. This is when the police car stopped in front of me. It was not a patrol car but a prisoner transportation and containment police unit – a Jeep with a protection glass screen between the front and back seats and some cool safety features. One guy in, the driver, asked me something along the lines " Where are you coming from & have you been drinking?". I guess I looked like one that just tried some johnny walker swing…
“Coming from work & going home. Not drunk, but frozen. That 35A did not show” I said. “Now I am walking home”
I do not know if he just felt bad about leaving me behind to walk myself into becoming Mrs. Frosty or he did not want to take a chance, but he replied:”get in. It is dangerous to walk down here at night; you could get hit by a car”. So I got in the back seat, got a ride home and was told that he cannot open the car from the inside while I was on the back seat – smart security lock. He had to get out, unlock the door from the outside so I can exit the car. Since I wasn’t asked any questions to raise my suspicion that it was an attempted arrest, I was left to wonder if it was another automatic feature. Or I live in such a posh neighborhood that, after all, whomever tries walking himself/herself into Mr./ Mrs. Frosty one cold winter night is automatically suspect.
As for the Saturday trips, the irony was that the faster trips (a mere two hours) were not the simpler. I had to take a 35A down to Route 51, a 46 G to Station Square, a 51C to 18th and in the end walk. For some strange reason the quasi- direct route 35A to Brownsville and 51C to 18th took longer…

In short, for me, the TDP changes worked well to improve my bus riding experience in the week end as well as in the evening.
The added weekend and evening trips for the new Prospect Park Flyer make my weekend and evening trips much easier to schedule. Having to take only two buses, instead of three, I worry less about missing my connection. I also get home a half an hour, 45 minutes earlier in the evening. Boring , and if I get another ride in a prisoner transportation and containment police unit , this time I'll know that I am in real trouble.
And given 51’s increased weekend frequency, my trips are a lot shorter too – even with Y49’s constant delay issues it takes me about an hour to get to work on a Saturday morning.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad the TDP worked out for you with the 46F/Y49. The constant delays on Y49 are NOT due to poor scheduling and/or TDP. They are the result of a street closure on Delwar Rd near Streets Run Rd. This is causing the Y49 to have to detour a couple MILES out of the way. A two mile detour can easily make ANY route late.

    Wait until construction is done to make a fair comparison of timeliness.