It says on Google maps that it should take 40 minutes on the M 101 bus to travel the six miles from the corner of East 79th Street to the bus stop on the corner of our block on West 152nd Street and Amsterdam.
We’d been to an event on East 76th Street and the plan was to catch the M 79 across to CPW and get the C train home, but we’d just missed the bus. Then we spotted an M 101 across the street heading uptown, and the 101 would leave us jut feet from our door rather than 5 or 7 blocks like the c train would, depending on what stop we’d choose to get off. We missed the 101 as well, but a quick check of my BUSTIME App said there was another 101 minutes away. We waited.
As we saw the bus approaching Danusia wondered if it was a good idea to get on this particular 101, as it was stopped on 78th Street for an inordinate amount of time. But when it pulled up to the stop, we got on. After all, we were in no big rush, and the fact that we didn’t have to transfer (and wait for) to a train or walk as far was pretty appealing.
The beginning of the trip was pleasant, the bus winding its way up Third Avenue, which grew darker and dirtier with each succeeding block. By the time we got to Spanish Harlem, I didn’t need to look at the street signs to know I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
Part of the discussion about which bus to take, (walk to Madison and catch an M 3 or just wait for the 101) was that 125th Street is a real drag of a street to go across, and last night did not disappoint. After we made the left turn onto 125th the bus slowed to a virtual crawl in the traffic, and more and more people boarded the bus.
There was something wrong with the bus’s coin/metro card machine, people had to insert their card four or five times before we heard the proper beep. As we waited at stop after stop for all of this card business to play out not one but TWO M 101s passed us, briskly making their way uptown.
By the time we’d made the turn onto Amsterdam Avenue some 20 minutes behind schedule the driver had had enough. He stopped the bus, got out of his little cage and announced:
“There’s another bus right behind me, and you’ll all have to get on that one. This bus is out of service.” We were just shy of 129th street when this happened.
So there we stood, probably twenty or so unfortunate new Yorkers resigned to the whims of NYC Transit.
After a few minutes the next bus pulled up and opened the door. We all got on, us, the chubby interracial couple with beach chairs, the tall African American woman regal in a long white dress and white turban, and the rest of the less memorable passengers. At least it was one of the newest articulated busses with three doors.
We went two stops when the driver announced, “I’m gonna have to be here for the next four minutes. Sorry.”
One of the stupidest rules of the NYC buss system is that you can’t be ahead of schedule. You can be late all you want, but you will be written up and eventually suspended if you come in ahead of schedule. That’s why when you’re in a hurry and think you lucked out on catching the bus you suddenly wonder why the driver is sitting at a corner letting the light change from red to green a few times before proceeding.
At least this guy let us know what was happening.
“There’s another bus coming, if you can all get on that one if you don’t want to wait,” he announced. I liked this guy.
There was another collective groan from the passengers, but Danusia laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation, and that made me relax a bit. She also exchanged looks with the regal woman in the white dress who was sort of smiling and said to her “this is beginning to get a little ridiculous.” The woman chuckled.
We finally reached our destination, and Danusia observed that people uptown are a little more relaxed, not as entitled as people downtown, nobody yelled at the driver.
A few weeks ago I made a bad decision based on my BUSTIME App and got an M 14 bus on Avenue A after a twenty-minute wait. As we boarded one of the women I’d been waiting with said to the driver: “You’re late!” The driver shook his head and replied, “I’m late. Yeah, well you could always take a cab, lady.”
So yeah, I can see that. I don’t yell at drivers, they are doing their jobs with busses that sometimes don’t work right and traffic they have no control over.
But I sure do wish I could yell at whomever decided busses can’t be early.