One Way to Ride Free on AC Transit (And Piss off all the Passengers)

>> Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another entry for the AC Transit Diaries...or the "Ain't that a..." Series

Riding the 1R bus from Broadway to Madison (downtown Oakland to Laney College mission) and this man gets on the bus, refusing to pay his fare.



"My car broke down," he says, arguing with a passenger who asks him not to slow down our Rapid bus. "No, you get off the bus."

"I paid my mothaf*cking fare," responds the oh-so-masculine lady eating sunflower seeds.

The bus drivers turns off the engine and won't go until he pays or exits. Despite pleas from passengers, the man refuses. A youngster – who 10 seconds before was plotting to "drop some ice in the aisle so someone slips" says he's going to "peg" the man with one of the ice cubes from his drink. I stand up and walk towards the front. Many passengers at this point have started to get off the bus for the 40 behind us.

"Any of y'all gone help me escort this man off the bus?" I ask. "But not you," I say, pointing to the young man with the oversized Cookie Monster shirt with a cup full of ice. "I just need two people max to remove him. Or, y'all can wait for the Sheriff."

No passenger takes my invitation to "remove" him, and many leave for the bus that just arrived.

"I'm disabled, you're required by law to give me a ride," he says to the driver. He continues arguing with the lady in the front.

I decide not to forcibly remove him. He was looking a bit funky for me to touch him. More importantly, I was feeling too aggressive to do a move like that. All it would've took was one false move from him and, as they say, it would be "cookies."

I might as well tweet this, I say to myself.

As I go to the front, a young man getting on the bus asks, "Does he need money for bus fare?"

I hop back on the bus. "What makes you think you special? We all paid? Why you ain't gotta pay," says some lady in a nurses smock.

I told the man, "All he had to do was ask for bus fare if you needed it."

"No, I'm entitled to ride free, by law," he said.

"By law? What law?" asks the bus driver.

Forget this! I get off the bus and start walking to Laney. As I pass EBMUD, I hear a bus approaching behind me. It's the same 1R steamrolling Eastbound.

And "Mr. I Ride Free" is sitting up front!

Ain't that a ...? I got off the bus and this fool free riding? Where the Sheriffs asses at?

This is what really pisses me off. Where was this dude in 2005 when AC Transit raised fares? Where was he in 2009 when AC Transit raised fares? Where was he when they cut service? (Not to mention Round 2 later this month and Round 3 at the end of the year).

If his ass was protesting fare hikes and service cuts, I wouldn't be mad. But no, you gone inconvenience everybody else because your jalopy broke down.

Chalk it up as another, "One time on the bus" story. But I am wondering:

If you were there, what would you have done?

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2 comments:

Anonymous,  August 27, 2011 at 2:46 PM  

Ha, so you just found out the open secret as to why AC Transit is in financial trouble. Everyday, for years I have seen many people, young and old, but mostly young, openly and aggressively refuse to pay on AC Transit. I know of one disturbed individual who has been riding the bus for many years and never pays because he is apparently a friend (insert friend, family, fellow gang member, member of the same racial group, etc.) of the driver. I have never seen a driver require him to pay. Oh, did I mention this person also smokes on the bus and at the bus stop? In the East Bay some animals are more equal than others.

Reginald James August 30, 2011 at 12:34 PM  

Interesting "observation," but I think that's more of a false assumption.

In reality, "fare box recovery," or the amount of revenue AC Transit receives from fares, bus passes, etc. is somewhere around 13-17% of their total revenue. That's a small portion in comparison to BART which makes more of its revenue from its fares. MUNI estimated in 2008/09 that they were losing 10% of their revenue due to "fare evasion."

In reality, the real elephant in the room is the discriminatory funding policies carried out by appointed members of the MTC which gives greater subsidies to agencies like Caltrain and BART.

We can blame AC Transit's financial woes on young people, like society does blame many people, but in reality, they are the transit riders of the future. And unless we provide them with an affordable, equitable and reliable transportation.

As for smoking on the bus, and at the bus stop, that's illegal (and disgusting) and should not be allowed. Thanks for your comment.

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Insight into my daily regimen. Obviously of a different specimen. Me, myself & I. So fly. Welcome to the Daily Regiment.

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