Monday, April 25, 2016


On my Saturday morning 72 piece, I usually had no problem keeping it on time. Even with 15 minute headways I never got caught by my follower, and you know a few poorly-timed red lights and a draw bridge can eat up that time quickly. The day before Valentine's something was going on, because traffic got heavy earlier than usual. Last minute gifts for a loved one? Enjoying the weather? Weekend events? Most likely the holiday played an influential role in Oakland Park Blvd being extremely crowded all the way from Sawgrass Mills to the Galt Mile. Ridership was decent, if someone wanted a seat there was always one available - a far cry from weekday afternoons when the sardine-can effect is in full swing. Regular westbound riders at that time are familiar with the "Sawgrass Shuffle". On top of the external obstacles, the old workhorse of the fleet, bus 601, was moving a bit more sluggish than usual.

My second eastbound trip around lunch time was the most trying. At University Drive I was already down 4 minutes, and that's the quietest stretch of the trip. When we departed 441 we were down 9 minutes, and we had yet to hit the choke points at I-95/Powerline or US 1.

Just west of the I-95 overpass we caught up to a young man in running gear, jogging at a brisk pace on the southside sidewalk. He was running the same direction we were crawling, outpacing the bus.

By the time we crossed the Powerline Road lights we were down 12 minutes, and that 15 minute headway was evaporating like a puddle at noon time. Occasionally glancing in the mirror for any sign of my follower, I knew he must be nearly empty since at this point I was picking up his people. Pretty sure there were no more empty seats now, but it's hard to see what's available 50 feet behind you in an artic.

Several minutes later we crossed Andrews Ave and the runner was still outpacing us. This was getting embarrassing. He was on course to beat us to the end of the line. Finally, around NE 4th Ave, he hit the brakes and resumed a walking speed. I have to applaud him on his stamina for over a mile. Well done, sir.

Shortly before US 1 any chance of getting back on time was a pipe dream. I was getting ready to pull into a pull-in stop to load a passenger in a wheelchair, when my follower came to the rescue and took over the picking up duties. Dispatch instructed me to turn around under the Intracoastal bridge, so I snaked it by the marinas and restaurants and reemerged onto OPB back on time.

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