Friday, May 05, 2006

Day Five

MEET THE PRESS
Today was really a WIERD day for the Simmons Family. Our blog has been getting a lot of attention and today we had a couple of folks from the Tribune ride along with us. Getting press is not something Sande or I had planned on when this thing started and it has frankly taken us by surprise.
We met up with Annie Nelson and Gerry McCarthy (I think that's the right spelling, sorry Gerry if I screwed up your name) at our place and walked down to the bus stop. Sande was heading out to her job at Green Meadows Hair Company and Thad and Sammy were running errands. Sande has to go to a continuing education class on Monday so Thad and Sammy went to the Library today to get some new books. We got on the Blue Line West at our usual stop at Rice and Osage and headed downtown. THE BUS WAS PACKED!!!! I've never seen a Columbia bus as full as that one (in all the week or so we've been riding :) ). Although the bus was packed, we still had a place to sit and took the time to read Sammy his Rocket Book one more time before we had to turn it back to the library.
At Wabash we said goodbye to Sande who got on the Orange Line headed south to go to work and Sammy and I got on the Red Line West to the library. We laid over at the library and talked with the Tribune reporters while Sammy played. I don't know what exactly I expected from the reporters but Annie and Gerry were terrific. The interview was really low key and not stressful at all. Annie did a great job and Gerry was EXTREMELY patient with our curious three year old who wanted to basically figure out how to beak his very expensive camera!!!

After the Library, we said goodbye to Annie and headed to Hy-Vee with Gerry. Gerry wanted to get some more "background noise" for his story. I'm not sure what "background noise" means but it basically involved Gerry walking around with headphones on and holding a very expensive lookng microphone.
We got to Hy-Vee and said goodbye to Gerry who was going back to work and was going to meet up with us again once we got back to Wabash. Sammy and I had lunch at Shakespeares and then headed over to Hy-Vee to get some groceries. Sammy got to ride Henry the Hy-Vee horse after the shopping, which is always a highlight for him.

Sammy and I got on the Red Line East at Hy-Vee and headed back to Wabash. We had a 40 minute lay over at Wabash waiting for the Blue Line East to get there and took the time to hang out in the station and buy the other bus pass I didn't get yesterday. While we were there Sammy needed a diaper change. You know there is nowhere in the Wabash Station to change a diaper. I ended up having to change him on the floor in the bathroom which was basically filthy. I know the Columbia Transit runs on a tight budget but I think they could probably afford to at least keep the one public restroom they have clean. I actually asked a Transit employee if there was a changing station in the terminal and she smiled and said hopefully there will be one in the new renovation. I hope so. Trying to change your kids diaper in the Wabash station borders on the disgusting.
We met up with my mom on the Blue Line East and headed back home. The rides were pretty uneventfull overall and especially so in light of what happened when Sande tried to use the bus this evening. Overall I would give our morning rides a 3.5 out of a possible 5. The points taken off were basically for the unsanitary and disgusting condition of the bathrooms and the fact that we had to wait forty minutes between the Red Line and Blue Line on the way home.

This evening Sande got off work and was going to take the bus home. According to the schedule, she should have been able to get off work at 6:00 and be on the bus right in front of the salon at 6:15. This was going to be perfect timing. Well, things didn't work out that way at all!!! The bus was running 20 minutes late, which is something we have come to expect from the Orange Line. Sande actually called the HotLine number Lee Radke had given us. The recording told her all busses were running on time. At 6:35 the bus arrived...with a broken front door. The bus ended up having to be swapped out mid route near Providence and Stadium. This transfer of busses was surprisingly smooth as the replacement bus was waiting and ready to go. Sande forgot her lunch bag on the bus however. Hopefully we'll get it back tomorrow. Because the Orange Line was so late, Sande missed her connection to the Blue Line East to go home. Something else we learned about Wabash Station today is that if you are riding the bus in the evening, you are basically on your own. That means no shelter. All the Para-Transit busses were busy and Sande was looking at having to spend the next hour or so, in the cold with no shelter. To make matters worse, Thad had gone to Saint Louis to pick up his two other kids for their weekend visit and so Sande was stuck. Not wanting to have to wait for an hour in the cold, and frustrated in general at the complete inability of the Orange Line to run on time (see our other blog entries for more on our problems with the Orange Line), Sande took a taxi home.
The trip home from work for Sande was very frustrating. Overall we are giving this trip a -13.30 points out of a possible 5. This was the cost of Sande's cab ride home. We are not giving up on trying to ride home from work on the Orange Line, hopefully it will get better.
Our trips so far on the Transit system have been OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE so I don't want to give the impression that we are being negative toward the bus system or it's employees. Machines break down, people get sick, you can't help that. I feel really sorry for the people who tried to help Sande tonight and just couldn't. They were really trying to help, but unfortunately there wasn't a plan B. Tomorrow is a new day.

2 Comments:

At 6:11 AM, Anonymous CT Driver said...

Ouch! Sorry to hear you had problems on the Orange again. This is an unusual problem for that route, but as you said, breakdowns happen. It's a shame it happened while we were short of transfer drivers.

Things like this have gotten better in the years since I became a driver, but sometimes you just can't get past the bumps.

This time of year (just before MU dismisses for the Summer) is always unusually hectic for Transit. Hopefully we can all remember to keep our cool under the added stress. Things calm down incredibly once the extra traffic from MU Students has passed.

 
At 3:48 PM, Anonymous G.J. McCarthy said...

Hello Thad (and Simmons family):

I'm sure I speak for Anne when I say it was a pleasure to meet and work with you all yesterday -- thanks so much for your patience and generosity with your time. And please, don't worry at all about Sammy ... kids are kids -- always -- and I've had them do a lot worse to my gear; comes with the territory, I guess.

The article should be out Monday -- pick up a copy of the Trib, and be sure to check out www.columbiatribune.com that afternoon for a multimedia slideshow (what I was recording the "background noise" for) to accompany the piece.

Thanks again for your time, and good luck with the experiment.

Cheers,

G.J. "Gerry" McCarthy
Photojournalist
Columbia Daily Tribune

 

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