Yesterday, I was riding the 51 bus to work and was a bit jarred by a recording played on the bus. I’m quite used to “talking” buses. Many of the trunk lines now announce major destinations and have been doing so for quite some time. But this message did not announce the intersection we were arriving at.
It was a security message, telling passengers to be aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious things or activities. It made me feel like I was at an airport, or in a BART station.
I could tell it threw the other passengers off a bit too, maybe simply because it was the first time we’d heard it. People looked around a bit and several of us with headphones on had taken them off to listen to the message. It’s one thing to hear a message in a BART station, while you’re waiting for a train, but it felt much more intrusive while riding a bus.
So later in the day, I was pleased to find a message in my inbox about the announcement. AC Transit is testing this and one other message on its buses. We might be stuck with this message forever, but it’s good to know there’s time to weigh in before it becomes permanent.
The other message, which I’ve yet to hear on a bus, sounds like a much better idea. It encourages riders to exit through the rear doors of the bus. This is awesome and long overdue.
I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about this because if more people exited through the rear doors, it could help keep buses on time (or more close to their schedules). Especially on busy lines, many seconds are wasted at a bus stop when several people exit through the front door while several more people have to wait to board the bus.
I’ve thought for a while that AC Transit should put up stickers on the buses encouraging people to use the rear doors, but an announcement could be just as good or better. I really hope it works.
If you have thoughts on the bus announcements, you can email TalkingBuses@actransit.org to share them.