As a daily Metro Bus rider for more than two years now, I have come to the conclusion that the "Alf" of the popular television series is more believable than the "Alf" of the less-than-popular Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
The heralded arrival of Mr. Savage as the new messiah of Western New York's public transportation woes has turned into a plague for many of the passengers. Some time back, Mr. Savage took a few bus rides, he said, "to get out there with the people and see what the service is really like."
How many times did he have to stand in the rain or snow? What was his recourse in the event that the bus broke down -- or never showed up? Were any of his carriages leaking, rattling, filled with fuel fumes? Did he tear or soil his clothing in any of the buses?
Apparently not. In fact, he must have been thoroughly satisfied with his "excursions with the people," for the next thing we discovered was a 50 percent fare increase! Amazing.
Then came the requests for additional funding from the municipalities and, at the same time, reports that some service would be cut. In other words, please provide additional subsidies for our company, which, by the way, will also be serving your people less.
The next time I buy a new car, I think I'll order a few extra fenders, tires, a spare transmission or two and some new seats -- just to be prepared for the car's impending deterioration. Here we have a brand spanking new LRRT system and we are talking about replacement parts before the "bugs" are even worked out. We must have great faith in the LRRT car manufacturer.
New electronic fare boxes -- well, at least new on some of the rural buses -- have been installed. These high-tech devices now accept dollar bills. There's one problem. We can't use them. The driver wants 80 cents when we board and the balance when we reach our destination.
"Why," I asked, "do the boxes have the dollar-bill receiver?" The driver replied that they have been installed in anticipation of another fare hike, which will increase the boarding amount to $1.
So we have another fare increase to look forward to, and in the interim we have to walk around with a bank bag to hold the coins we need for a couple of bus rides.
Incidentally, the bus driver watched me drop three quarters and a nickel into the electronic fare box. Did the electronic read-out register 80 cents? No, it registered 40 cents.
Well that shouldn't be any problem, for I imagine they have ordered a few spare parts for the fare boxes, too.
Thanks a lot.
JOHN T. THURSTON