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Thanks for Robert Gammon's look at AC Transit's pigheaded bus purchases. He neglected a few other of the Van Hool buses' egregious horrors:
Not just at the front, but at the rear of the buses riders have to mount a platform 18" from the floor in order to gain a seat, and there is often no pole or strap, so that once safely seated, the rider finds his or her center of gravity so high that she is tossed about wildly at every turn or curve and threatened with being violently thrown to the floor. The lack of straps or poles on the Van Hools makes the act of walking to the rear of the bus a hellish exercise of bumping into people and grabbing on to anything that might offer support.
Almost half the seats on these buses from hell face the rear. This may be acceptable on trains or cruise ships, but bus riders need to see where the bus is going, so they can signal their stop.
Rather than a cord to pull and signal for a stop (running the length of the bus on both sides and available to every rider), Van Hool riders must search for a button on a pole which may or may not adjoin their seat, so that many have to lean across the aisle at a dangerous height from the floor in order to press the button. Front seats, reserved for handicapped and elderly, have no buttons at all.
The buses run hot, and feel stuffy, but to open the windows, which on the old buses beside every window seat slide open or shut, on the Van Hools requires leaning precariously over a seat in front or behind the rider, or negotiating with other passengers in order to grasp the latches with two hands, and thus get some air.
There's more, much more to tell. The people who make the decisions for AC Transit clearly don't ride the buses,and because AC Transit is a regional system, there's virtually no political accountability.
As gas prices rise, the economy shrinks, and global warming looms, serviceable public transit is essential. Hopefully Robert Gammon's expose will help stir cities and counties into action, and put to sleep the venal fantasies of the AC Transit Board of Directors.
~ Paul Bloom
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