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Monday, February 26, 2007

The 194

posted by on February 26 at 14:34 PM

On Friday night, my kids and I witnessed an unpleasant incident. We were about to walk into a restaurant/bar on the ground floor of the Smith Tower when we saw the confusion of a black man running down the street with his daughters. A second later, we realized that they were running toward a bus that had come to a stop on the corner of Second and Cherry. It was the number 194 and the father had one daughter in his arms and the other running just behind him. Both daughters were neatly dressed and around the age of six. As they crossed Cherry, the 194 left the bus stop and waited for the red light to turn green. The father reached the 194, which was only a meter or so from the bus stop, and begged the driver to let them in. It was cold; they had a long way to go; the girls needed to get home. The driver refused to open the door and when the light turned green, drove off just like that. One of the daughters started crying. I took my disturbed kids into the restaurant/bar. They had food and I had a couple stiff drinks. Bus drivers can be such bastards with their little power.

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I have been at the losing end of this scenario many, many times... sans children though, which I guess makes it more annoying than depressing scene you described. Bus drivers can be real bastards... especially since there isn't going to be another 194 coming for a while... about 12 hours if that was the last express of the day.

On the other hand, that driver is responsible for anything that should happen to passengers boarding outside a specific zone... if he'd pulled away from the curb and still let them on, would've been the driver's, and Metro's, ass in a sling should anything have happened.

I imagine Metro takea measures to discourage running after buses as well, which can be extremely dangerous. (The one and only time I saw a person killed, in person, was a woman chasing the 174 across 2nd. It's not a fun image to have burned into your brain).

Posted by Dougsf | February 26, 2007 2:50 PM

This never would have happened with a monorail!

Posted by gfish | February 26, 2007 3:01 PM

and they wonder why so many people drive themselves around this city.

Posted by ddv | February 26, 2007 3:14 PM

So the Stranger's position on Metro seems to be this:

The buses are slow and always late. But they shouldn't keep on schedule or observe safety regulations. And the needs of the late outweigh the needs of those who got to their stop on time.

Sorry, I ain't buying it.

Posted by Schizophrenia | February 26, 2007 3:15 PM

Well maybe if they actually stuck to a fucking schedule now and then people wouldn't be so confused as to just when they needed to be there.

Since I started taking the bus to and from work again I've yet to see it on schedule. It's usually 20 minutes late leaving me wondering if I've actually missed it or if it's just late.

Posted by monkey | February 26, 2007 3:17 PM

This isn't just a 194 issue. It happens on occasion on any bus with MetroKC or Sound Transit or Community Transit or Olympia Transit, etc. Dougsf spot on. Some drivers follow the rules to the point of seeming merciless.

But in general, Seattle actually has the nicest bus drivers for a 2mil plus city.

The only cities where I've experienced nicer drivers were in Boston and Reykjavik.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | February 26, 2007 3:18 PM

Hmm, the driver was a bastard: that is obvious. But on the other side of the coin, people get upset if the driver sits and waits for every person who is running late since that makes the bus later and later. Fault formula? 95% the driver's fault and 5% the guy and his kids for not trying to get to the stop in time.

Posted by Andrew | February 26, 2007 3:20 PM

I've had drivers that are stopped behind another bus, such as on Market Street, and refuse to let people on or off until they can scoot another 5 feet forward to get in front of the painted curb. I would think that the policy is to prevent people from making up their own stops or hailing buses like cabs, not silly nitpicky shit like that.

Posted by The CHZA | February 26, 2007 3:21 PM

Ive had bus drivers stop more than a block away from a Park and Ride to let me on. Wonder wh-- whoops! I'm white and childless. Hmmm...

Posted by andy niable | February 26, 2007 3:38 PM

The 194 is an Express bus. ECB says that cripples shouldn't be allowed on Express buses. Why don't you ask her how she feels about little kids.

Posted by DOUG. | February 26, 2007 3:43 PM

As I told a woman once waiting for the bus, "if the bus isn't late it was early."

Metro sucks, and so do too many of their drivers. Since I don't have or want a car, I have no other choice but to ride Metro. Had the city/county/state not wasted all our money studying a rail system they never planned on building, maybe we would have a lot better bus system.

Posted by elswinger | February 26, 2007 3:49 PM

It is pretty simple: If the bus is moving or has started moving, they aren't allowed to let people on. I get this, it keeps the buses from running people over in the street which is typically a good thing to avoid.

But that bus was at a complete stop right next to a bus stop.

Bus drivers will prattle on about safety rules if you call them on this, but the fact of the matter is that the drivers who are not jackasses will let people on if they get to the bus while it is stopped. I'd say that jackass to not jackass runs about 50/50 in metro.

Hell, I had a driver lecture me for knocking on his window while he was stopped at a light next to the bus stop after I'd run three blocks to catch him at the next stop.

I'm a liberal guy and I like unions and appreciate them for scoring weekends for us, but I wonder if bus drivers would be such jackasses if they had to keep ridership up if they wanted a good performance review and a raise.

Posted by mason | February 26, 2007 3:52 PM

It boggles my mind that Charles has kids.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 26, 2007 3:58 PM

Really though, this could be read either as "Stickler for the rule's Metro driver heartlessly denies family a ride",


"Kids learn important life lesson on punctuality". (Ever try and get a pair of 6 year olds out of the house on time? Chances are, dad tried his best here.)

Regardless, Metro bus drivers are some of most pleasant I've experienced, and more than anywhere - ableit probably against their training - actually make some effort to police their coaches. Here in SF (who are paid highest second only to Boston), if any trouble should break out on the bus, the freakin' driver is almost certain to be the first person off the bus. I'm not expecting heroics in the face of peril here MUNI drivers, but fuck I have witnessed some of the most obscene indifference.

Posted by Dougsf | February 26, 2007 4:01 PM

I have met some really great Metro drivers in the 16 years I have lived in Seattle, but all it takes is a couple really nasty SOBs (or female equivalent) to sour me on the experience. I have heard some of the most racist comments come out of the mouths of Metro drivers, and when I called in to complain, nothing was done.

Posted by elswinger | February 26, 2007 4:09 PM

sounds like they would have made it if it hadn't been for the light. i've missed so many buses waiting for lights to turn green. it's a lot harder to make a quick break for it with two little kids in tow.

Posted by the crosswalk ruins everything | February 26, 2007 4:14 PM


I've seen some pretty hairy shit on MUNI when I lived in SF and had to ride the 15. Including a bus driver telling a guy in a wheelchair to fuck off because the bus was too crowded (at 10pm). The bus would regularly have people smoking cigarettes and weed in the back, and all the emergency exit windows flapped on every corner. At one point, they threatened strike, partially due to the danger of that route.

Metro drivers at their rudest are still amazingly polite and nice.

Regardless of the drivers, our transit situation here IS abysmal, and its time something was done about it. I'm pretty certain adding more car capacity isn't it.

Posted by Matt Westervelt | February 26, 2007 4:25 PM

most seattle buses don't adhere to schedules. every other city (and country) i've lived in, the schedule is adhered to religiously. when a bus is ahead, the driver waits at a stop so people at further stops aren't jacked because the driver isn't paying attention to the time.

additionally, there have always been fewer stops (why the hell does the 26/28 REALLY need to stop 5 times in a 1/4 mile stretch?!?)

also, if the city would buy buses with less seats, they'd be able to accomodate more people during rush hour. and then, during the day when it's no so crowded, mothers could take their strollers on sans difficulty...

the pubic transportation in this city is pathetic. but it is still (slightly) better than the alternative, and a hell of a lot cheaper.

Posted by mike | February 26, 2007 4:33 PM

Matt #17 - Agreed, transit in Seattle sucks, and the reason my little rant only contained one curse word is that the bus is no longer part of my daily commute (BART now), and agreed, I also used to ride the 15 when I was on Potrero... shit was hairy. Still, at least we have other options.

Mike #18 - Agree with two of your points. In most places where I've relied on public transit, it seems there's twice as many bus stops as neccessary. And those Metro buses with all the seating an the tiny isles just don't make sense outside of the really long commute routes. More standing room would benefit capacity and load times.

Posted by Dougsf | February 26, 2007 4:46 PM

I think it would also help if there were buses that were in the ride free only area. Paint the buses a specific color indicating that they only serve the ride free area. All other buses that are not painted that color, you have to pay to get on. The buses shouldn't be used as a rolling homeless shelter.

Posted by elswinger | February 26, 2007 4:49 PM

I saw a muni bus in San Francisco once clip off a guy's car door, narrowly missing the leg he was about to stick out. The door flew fifty feet up the street. The driver never even slowed down.

Posted by Fnarf | February 26, 2007 4:59 PM

dear elswinger,

you do have other options. they are called bicycles.

Posted by erika | February 26, 2007 5:00 PM

ha ha black people running to the bus with multiple children. i bet the bus driver was asian too. i saw this movie, and it had matt dillon and terence howard and ryan philllippppppe in it.

Posted by frederick r | February 26, 2007 6:01 PM

Compared to Denver's RTD, Metro was a dream come true. But I never understood why they had so many stops on their routes (except the 358 which has stops only once every 5 blocks). But RTD did listen when I complained about the bus coming too early (since I had a half hour wait for the next bus I went back home and called to bitch about it, and they were able to verify the bus was ahead of schedule via GPS - back in 1994!) The bus wasn't early any more after that.

Posted by Matt from Denver | February 26, 2007 6:13 PM

excellent drivers are better than robot monorails. but robots at least you expect to be heartless and can be reconciled with a pleasant worldview. they will always be on time. that driver can't be. so people should not treat other people such as this. open the dang door, you are a public servant and oppressed too.

Posted by 9 times | February 26, 2007 6:57 PM

well, it's a good thing they were neatly dressed. i guess if they weren't, it would have been ok for the bus to just leave without them.

why didntcha just help em out with a cab instead of havin a couple of stiff drinks?
reach OUT and help your people, people.

Posted by hoochie from wynoochie | February 26, 2007 7:31 PM

I guess they should run faster or plan better next time.

Posted by dantc | February 26, 2007 8:02 PM

Metro policy forbids drivers from accepting or discharging passengers in any place other than a bus stop (emergencies excepted). Had the driver allowed the family to board, he or she could have been punished by Metro management.

I've ridden Metro almost every working day for well more than a decade, and almost seen many persons hit when running for busses. Safety first. I agree that missing the 194 really hurts, since the 174 (the local) takes infinitely longer to make the same trip.

Posted by Paddy Mac | February 26, 2007 10:05 PM

Oddly, several critical responses ignored crucial facts: The bus was fully stopped, waiting for a red-light to change, and still refused to accept the man with his daughters: No travel time lost.
The #194 in the evening runs about every hour, so miss one and your travel time is extended significantly. On a cold night, this can be an emergency.
Ok, Metro policy forbids... but I've seen many drivers pick up or drop off someone at an unorthadox spot if it is safe to do so. And I've seen then refuse to do so on safety grounds too.
The Bus Driver is clearly at fault in Charles' story. And it's a major fault when it involves children.
In Seattle some drivers are idiots/bastards, the vast majority are pleasant, a few are insanely pleasant. I've also seen a Metro driver shut the door and drive off when a couple who flagged the bus to stop continued their special conversation/goodbye inappropriately long. I congratulated the driver.

Posted by treacle | February 26, 2007 11:01 PM


I'm 43 and suffer from congenital heart disease and had a kidney transplant last year. As much as I'd like to bike to and from work, my heart can't take the hills. If I was up for it I would bike it.

Posted by elswinger | February 27, 2007 9:35 AM

Bus drivers and parking enforcement, I wonder if they bunk together in hell? Does the job destroy every last iota of compassion in the worker over time or do they only hire conscienceless monsters?

Posted by dewsterling | February 27, 2007 10:23 AM

There are many good bus drivers, but for some yes, that bus is their own personal kingdom. I've had the same thing happen to me, with the bus driver simply pointing back at the bus stop three feet behind him. I've also had a bus driver yell at me for standing in the rear doorwell. WTF? Why is there a handle there? Oh, power trip. I see.

18: I like your ideas of fewer seats (= more standing room) and fewer stops. It always annoyed me that there were stops every other block, slowing the route waaaay down.

13: lol @ keshmeshi

Posted by him | February 27, 2007 10:41 AM

Dear Erika,

What is it about riding bicycles that turns people like you into such self righteous assholes? Seriously, why are so many bicyclists such self-righteous assholes? Bicycling is not a commuting alternative for about 98 percent of Seattleites. This city has too many hills and too much rain and it's just too fucking dark in the winter to make riding a bicycle anything other than an exercise in masochism. Now, if that's your kink I'm fine with it, please yourself, but don't offer it as a serious transit alternative.

Oh, and for all of you self-righteous Critical Massholes out there, I do ride a bike and in fact did the StP last summer, with one leg and a broken wrist, so as far as bike cred goes you can all kiss my hairy, white, crippled ass.

Posted by wile_e_quixote | February 27, 2007 11:59 AM

Doesn't anyone find it incredibly tacky that Mr. Mudede finds it necessary to qualify the ethnicity of the man running for the bus? One would almost think he wanted to start some sort of discourse on how that would have never happened to any other person running for a bus with their children if they weren't black. Just lame.

As for the bicyclists and their rudeness! Right on! How many people have we all seen in downtown Seattle almost get knocked off of the sidewalks by bike messengers who like to weave on the street then sidewalk then street. Just run over the fuckers because it's not like any of those losers are going to be contributing any tax dollars to either a tunnel rebuild OR a new viaduct.

Posted by Kitty | February 27, 2007 2:32 PM

Wow, reading a lot into a one line comment there.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 27, 2007 2:33 PM

Well look who the comment is coming from for goodness sakes. What other writer at The Stranger would qualify an individuals ethnicity like that given the situation??? It's just inappropriate and quite frankly not even politically correct.

Posted by Kitty | February 27, 2007 2:39 PM

That's a different Erika. ECB spells her name with a "c." Erica.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 27, 2007 6:26 PM

Oh crap. Nevermind. After I hit post, I realized you were talking about Mudede.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 27, 2007 6:27 PM

If it was a white man with white kids that would never of happend! WTF?! Fight the power! Of the racist bus driver! And never forget! February 26!

Posted by croydonfacelift | February 27, 2007 10:37 PM

"Daddy, why are you drunk?"

"Well, it's because the racist bus-driver superstructure made me do it."

"Oh. That's ok then."

Posted by cryodonfacelift | February 27, 2007 10:43 PM

um, right. and? welcome to metro.

Posted by memo | February 28, 2007 11:39 AM

I find it interesting that the race was included in the post indicating that there is some sort of racial issue here....? I've seen drivers who are strict to the rules and those who fudge em. I have been parly to both being allowed on by some and not by others. Never once have I seen those decisions be based on what looks to be anything but the whim of the driver and their disgruntled or indifferent attitude.
I suspect, knowing very little about the insurance business that the decision isnt racial at all but economic. I do know that like most business's (if not all of them) that it's about the all mighty dollar and that being said if anything were to happen to someone getting on or off a metro bus...the insurance companys will not even consider any kinda payout if said incident occured, so much as a proveable inch, outside of their designated area, no matter what the conditions.
That leaves the driver (underpaid, underprotected, lower mid.class citizen at best) on the hook for a civil suit.
My point is... it should be expected that it doesnt matter if they are one inch past the line, runnin on time or not, set the customer expectation of being able to get on or off a bus at the bus stop only (no exceptions)and then incidents like this become unfortunate but understandable.
Couple this with some culpability on the part of metro to address issues such as running a scheduled route on time for once and making that a clean and safe ride... but I'm now convinced that isnt what this post was meaning to address.

Posted by drone5969 | February 28, 2007 4:40 PM

if you all would actually read and not just react (especially croydonfacelift and drone5659), i'm referring to charles mudede being racist, not the bus driver.

Posted by hoochie from wynoochie | March 7, 2007 8:15 PM

if you all would actually read and not just react (especially croydonfacelift and drone5659), i'm referring to charles mudede being racist, not the bus driver.

Posted by hoochie from wynoochie | March 7, 2007 8:15 PM

it's kinda fun hittin it twice.

Posted by hoochie from wynoochie | March 7, 2007 8:18 PM
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