I am not the only one who is invisible. Yesterday I was coming out of Central Square on the 2:20pm #70 outbound bus. The bus was numbered 0293, or so it said up front. The operator number was not displayed. You got it, I’m about to tell you something specific that had to do with the driver’s performance. Right-o.
I think it was near where the #86 intersects with the #70 route. At any rate, a wheelchair passenger was waiting for the bus. I watched all of this from my seat. I was seated on the right side of the bus, at the window seat, so I could see all this transpire. She came to the front of the bus. This is normally where wheelchair passengers would enter the bus nowadays, along with on foot passengers, since the newer designed buses replaced the older buses. The newer buses have this neat ramp up front that anyone can use who needs it. It unfolds onto the sidewalk. There is room for two wheelchairs in the front of the new buses. Passengers with baby strollers are supposed to enter the front of any bus so they can pay their fare, but occasionally are allowed to enter the rear door when there is no room up front for a larger stroller.
But anyway, the bus I was on was not one of the newer buses. This was the older kind, the pretty much inaccessible kind if you ask me. There are three steep steps that on foot passengers have to climb to get onto the bus. This includes people using canes, crutches, and walkers. This includes people trying to get their baby strollers onto the bus. On these buses, wheelchair passengers have to wheel backwards onto a special lift, and then sit in the back of the bus. There is room for only one wheelchair on each of these less accessible buses.
Why hasn’t the MBTA taken these inaccessible buses off the road?
So there I was, sitting in my seat, watching this passenger waiting to get on who most unfortunately wasn’t aware that this was one of the older buses, where she had to enter in the rear. As soon as she realized, though, I saw her nod her head, and turn back toward the rear door.
But wait. The bus took off. I am not kidding you. The bus driver hadn’t even seen her.
Let it be known that I am not the only one who is invisible. On foot passengers stand while waiting for the bus. The wheelchair user was seated. She was, therefore, a couple of feet shorter than a person standing. THIS IS NO EXCUSE THIS IS BULLSHIT HE SHOULD HAVE SEEN HER!
Bus driver to passenger: “You are so tiny that I didn’t see you!”
Bus driver to passenger: “You don’t matter, so I don’t see you!”
Bus driver to passenger: “It is such a pain in the butt to get that lift to operate, that I didn’t see you!”
So get this: About 30 feet later, the bus stops. I guess someone shouted at the bus driver that he’d left a passenger behind. So the woman came up to the back of the bus, and the driver did the procedure with the lift.
Or tried to. He lowered the lift okay. Then he told her how to get on it, explaining that she needed to back onto it. So far so good. Then he tried and tried to get the lift to lift. It wouldn’t go up. It went up partially, then struggled and struggled, and then he let it down again and said, “Sorry, your wheelchair is too heavy. It’s too heavy for this lift. You’re going to have to wait for one of the newer buses. Wait for the next bus.”
Bullshit. Bullshit bullshit bullshit. This was a small electric wheelchair. Nothing heavy about it. I have seen these lifts lift far heavier people on far heavier wheelchairs.
Why the heck don’t they train these guys to use the lifts properly? Or, shall I say, why was this guy on the road to begin with?
Bus driver to passenger: “I just don’t want to bother with you. You are crippled so you probably don’t have feelings that matter. Get off my bus and take the next one.”
Bus driver to his wife: “You are a woman so you probably don’t have feelings that matter. Get a lift.”
Everywhere, there are those that are invisible. I am not the only one.