The other week, during one of the many sub freezing days of this winter's Polar Vortex, I was waiting for a CTA bus to arrive at my stop. Before leaving my warm and cozy house a couple blocks away, I tried using this wonderful piece of technology called CTA Bustracker to tell me when the bus would arrive.
Alas, there was no information available for this particular route on this particular day. So I walked over to the stop and tried to use the text message feature on the bus stop sign. Also no information available. I suspected it was because a good portion of the bus route was under construction. Fair enough, a bus has to come by eventually, right?
Lo and behold after waiting less than 5 minutes what do I see but a bus approaching. And the light just turned green so the warm bus will be here in no time. Wait? What is it doing? It is stopping before crossing the street to the bus stop while the light is green and it is freezing cold! WTF?
I got on the bus wanting to give the driver a piece of my mind, but since I have so little to spare, I kept quiet. As we approached the CTA train terminal we once again stopped at a green light instead of proceeding into the terminal. Now I was really starting to get mad. I get that you might be ahead of schedule but do I have to miss my train because you couldn't just wait at the terminal a few more minutes? Again trying to work on my anger management, I kept the Rage Beast in check. However, I heard another passenger ask:
"why are we stopped here?"
The bus driver politely explained that because they were ahead of schedule they were not allowed to arrive at the station early or they get written up. And if they get three write ups, they get terminated. as I was getting out, i confirmed with the driver that was what had happened at my stop as well; the bus arrived too early. and even after allowing one light cycle back at my stop which presumably put it back on track, it was still approximately 1 minute too early at the Bus Terminal Station less than two miles away. I should point out that we didn't have too many more passenger pickups between my stop and terminal.
I pointed out that we had to stand a whole 30 extra seconds in the cold and it would have been nice to be on a warm bus even if it wasn't moving and the driver apologized, explaining that the GPS was so precise, it could tell if the bus were at the stop or not and it counts against the driver for being at the stop too early.
Now I don't want to get anyone fired or in trouble. Well actually, I don't want to get this driver fired or in trouble. There are many I'd like to punish and when I Rule The World, the first one's lined up and shot will be the people who stand on escalators AND block the path of those trying to walk around them.
but I digress. Being in the cold an extra 30 seconds isn't the end of the world, nor is missing the next El train, at least not for me, not that particular day. Some people unfortunately don't have as forgiving an employer as mine. I just kinda think there should be a better system in place. One that doesn't punish someone for driving with the flow of traffic.
I recall reading somewhere -- my Google-fu is too weak to find it -- that when the CTA first started using GPS to track buses, there was resistance among bus drivers because they feared it would be used against them for being late. Who would have imagined it could be used against them for being early.
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