I wrote an article entitled Riding The Bus in Chapel Hill a few months ago for the Go Triangle blog, in which I talked about my experience using Chapel Hill Transit. Given that I have located to another city in the Triangle area, Durham, I thought it would be fun to juxtapose that prior experience with my current one.
My silly title comes from the fact the the Durham Area Transit Authority? Association? I’m not sure which, is shortened to DATA. Makes it sound like the city is a hub for technology and information, which I suppose this whole area strives to be with its Research Triangle Park.
Of course, DATA is different from Chapel Hill Transit in that its primary base isn’t necessarily college students. Well maybe many college students ride, as the Route 6 that takes me to my apartment in Duke Manor spends a significant amount of time on the Duke University campus.
Any system is most obviously powered by its drivers. The Durham drivers are perhaps less likely to engage me in brief conversation than those in Chapel Hill were. By this point though, the ones who regularly transport me know who I am and will say “good morning” or “have a good rest of the day” when appropriate.
One very good thing is that I have yet to miss a stop and go sailing back around. This is a result not only of the drivers’ vigilance, but also that of the other passengers. Invariably, someone will tap me on the leg or shoulder to ask where I plan to disembark. I have learned, as I usually do, to notice when I’m arriving at my apartment’s location.
This ability is aided by the stop announcement system, which is more intricate than any I can recall hearing. I recorded an audio file some time ago to capture that ambience that I called A Fun Ride Through Durham .
The first thing I noticed, as I demonstrate in that recording, is that every time someone pulls the cord to request a stop, the bus says “Please remember to remain seated, or hold onto a railing, until the bus comes to a complete stop”. Then once the door hisses open, it says “For your safety, please watch your step when getting off the bus”.
Second, it somehow recognizes if individuals are rockin’ too hard to a song, either in open speakers or a headset. It’ll say “Please, no loud music allowed on the DATA bus,” until something is done about this situation.
Finally, and perhaps most fascinating of all, someone had taken the side-facing seats at the front of the bus that are typically reserved for older folks and those with disabilities. I continued down the aisle until I was able to locate an open seat, but then the system pointed this out:
“Please note, seats in front are reserved for the elderly and those with disabilities”.
It kind of put a big, red dot on that poor individual’s forehead.
That’s just a little taste of what it’s like for me taking the DATA bus to and from work every day. Quite often packed, full of interesting happenings and conversation. I’m sure it’ll become even more so with the improving weather, supposing said improvements actually happen.