Friday, March 30, 2007

On The Buses.....

......With Guns?

I love riding the buses of Vancouver.

Especially when stuff like this happens:

The 44-B hightails it from the Point Grey campus all the way into the downtown core, about 12 km in all, in something like six stops. The machine itself is one of those articulated behemoths with a round dish floorplate in the middle between two hunks of busbody that is straddled by a couple of bench seats that was filled to bursting with a bunch of school kids out on a field trip.

As soon as we hit the road the kids were up and surfing the dish. The only other place I've seen this kind of thing is on the Metro in Montreal, and it's fantastic to watch because some of these kids are really good at rolling with each and every exaggerated twist, turn and jump that, taken together, are hugely amplified whipsaw replicas of even tiny movements of the driver's hands on the steering wheel sixty feet in front of them.

But there was more than just that going on with these kids, because they were clearly from two different classes from two very different schools. One class was the host group, all hip and city and urban and cool. The other class was visiting from way out of town in the sticks, maybe Prince George or something. And they were all babbling back and forth to beat the band while they joked around and took turns up on the dish playing it kind of like they were riding bulls at the rodeo.

And one class was teaching the other class how to count in a language they had never heard before. It was mandarin. And the kids doing the teaching were the hosts. The kids from Prince George were all white, and they were lapping up the "eee!..... arrre!!....san!!!.....soooo!!!!" counts and turning them into whooping cheers like they were 'Team Tolerance' at the Calgary Stampede.

Then, suddenly, thirty-two minutes after we got on the bus we were all thrown out onto the shimmering street in front of Waterfront Station. The kids filed off and wandered toward the Five Sails at Canada Place. Me, I slipped my laptop into my pack, strapped it on my back, grabbed my bike from the rack at the front of the 44-B, and headed for the seabus and the ride across the harbour trailing this view.

But now, unfortunately, we have decided we need to have paramilitaries riding shotgun on the behemoths.

The Bear 604 has the story, and he explains why this is so ridiculous, not to mention scary.

The 99 B-Line deployment is an accidental shooting waiting to happen. The route stretches from Broadway/Commercial Drive Station to the University of British Columbia campus, with most of the city's major health care facilities at VGH in the middle. Sooner or later, a student activist, maybe with the Bus Riders Union, a psychiatric outpatient, or just somebody who's having a really bad day is going to get on the overcrowded bus and cross an overstressed bus driver.

Ya, and what about those crazy, troublemakin' dish riders and/or wild-eyed middle-aged guys in bikeshorts that try, perhaps, to intervene?


Couldn't we just make like the British and/or the dopey old British sitcoms and have, I dunno, maybe, conductors?


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