Study in Contrast

I had an interesting ride on the express bus today – 2 unusual events, only 1 was a first. (It won’t be hard to guess which one.) Boarded with the usual crowd headed off for another soulless day in the FiDi, plus a homeless guy who hangs out around my neighborhood from time to time. No sooner do we pull away from the curb, but we stop at the next one so the bus driver can signal the MUNI dispatcher who is stationed on the corner to monitor – well, bus traffic, I guess. The driver asks the dispatcher what the policy is on letting homeless people ride the bus, and the dispatcher/overseer/bouncer boards the bus and asks the man with the shaggy beard and the filthy raincoat to get off the bus. He doesn’t yell, but he’s also not going to have a conversation with him. A woman sitting near me asks the driver why the man is being removed, and offers to pay his fare. The driver signals the bouncer over, who shakes his head and tells the woman in an aggressive tone to have a nice day, and that he’ll put the guy on a different bus. While I’m not unsympathetic to the plight of those who need to use the bus for transportation, I’m also not sorry this guy hadn’t sat next to me.

When we got to the last stop before the express jaunt downtown, another MUNI dispatcher/overseer/customer service agent boards the bus with a passenger and asks the driver if he could stop at Hyde so the woman could get off at the hospital. The driver says of course, and the woman politely thanks him.

There was clearly a double-standard of service being offered on the route today, between the articulate, well-dressed, blonde woman and the ragged, not-so-sweet-smelling, mumbling homeless man. But I wondered if some of my fellow passengers were thinking they didn’t give a rat’s ass who rode or didn’t ride the bus, and were just annoyed because our express bus was slowed down TWICE.

3 Comments so far

  1. anna (unregistered) on August 15th, 2006 @ 1:56 am

    Where were all those customer service agents when I was waiting for 30 minutes for a bus, at the 30-stockton stop at Sutter x Stockton? I ask you, where? At one point I looked around, realized everyone was a tourist, and left to take the cable car. That’s pretty sad when you have a better chance of getting a seat on the cable car leaving downtown, than MUNI.

  2. Aaron Brazell (unregistered) on August 15th, 2006 @ 3:57 am

    Holy crap. Now I know _3_ people at SF Metblogs and I live on the east coast!

  3. Mark (unregistered) on August 15th, 2006 @ 9:55 am

    My wife and I had a similar event happened when we visited San Francisco a few years ago. Part of this was that the bus we were on took us to where we definitely didn’t want to go. (My wife’s sister was surprised that we came back alive.)

    Anyway, there was a passenger on the bus who seemed innocent enough, but the driver when out of his way to tell him to get off.

    I have no idea if there is some law that says a driver can refuse service to anyone, but if that is true, then they should post it at the front or something.

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