Overzealous T Operator
This morning I attempted to take my bike on the T. I boarded the Red Line after 9 AM in Dormont, so it was hardly occupied, and two cars were in operation.
I boarded the front half of the rear car, and soon after, the operator stopped the train, left his car, and came down demanding that I lift the wheelchair seats and stand there with my bike “stowed”. Note that I have never seen anyone do this, or be yelled at for not doing this, including me.
I said that I had no idea how to stow the wheelchair seats, so the driver flung them up and told me “Read the instructions on the window!” There were no instructions. He quickly explained, “Well, there are instructions on the other cars!”
The other riders were amused at this guy, and at least didn’t blame me for what happened, and several people even chimed in to say things like “That guy’s a jerk.”
Anyway, I searched Port Authority’s site as soon as I got into work. No documentation on operating the wheelchair seats. I even checked CAF’s site (the company that manufactures the T vehicles), nothing.
I called Port Authority customer service, and after being told that the driver is the only one who is allowed to operate the seats, I explained my situation, and they called me back after they were able to find someone who knew the secrets of wheelchair seat stowing.
Apparently there’s a black knob under the seat, which you pull down with one hand, while lifting or lowering the seats with your other hand. Your third hand is for balancing your bike.
I’ll keep an eye out for the window instructions that this guy claimed were on the T windows, and will post a picture if I find them.
The operator was right that official PAT policy is that bikes on the T must go in wheelchair spaces. It’s a dumb policy, though, and few pay it any attention. There are plenty of other ways to keep a bike from obstructing the aisles.
I saw one cyclist once who turned his bike upside down before boarding, then set it down in the aisle on the T, raised the wheelchair seats, moved the bike into that space, then sat down near it. I guess you could do that if your bike is stable when upside down and it doesn’t mess up any stuff on your handlebars or elsewhere.
the driver is the only one who is allowed to operate the seats
Makes no sense for the T, but perhaps it’s an official policy for buses. In any case, passengers raise or lower the seats all the time and nobody cares.
Yep, I know it’s the official policy, and I thought it was sufficient to just stay out of everyone’s way, and not follow the letter of the law regarding stowage. I was mostly just annoyed that I got the one driver who felt like enforcing the rules rather than considering the consequences to other passengers :)
Update: Happened again on the way home. Really I had every intention to just play by their rules and lift the seats, but the sideways seats were occupied, and I didn’t want to kick people out. Otherwise the cars were minimally occupied, so I made a judgment call to find a spot by the inside doors/pay post in the rearmost car, and figured this would be plenty out of the way and also wouldn’t force anyone to vacate their seat.
The operator came back to tell me to put the bike in the proper spot. I don’t know whether it was the same operator it was in the morning.
I explained that the seats were occupied. He told me if I wanted to stay on, I needed to ask the people in the one seat to move to another so I could lift it up. He wouldn’t ask. It’s far better for his power trip to make someone else do it, I guess. I asked the guy to vacate the seat, and apologized to him and the other riders for the delay, although everyone said the driver was just being a jerk anyway.
I was a T rider for 6 years before I took a job that wasn’t directly connected to the T. I saw all sorts of things happen to passengers at the hands of other passengers, but one thing I never saw was an operator leave his seat to do anything about it. Then I came on board with a bike and made a judgment call to “break the rules” because I thought the consequences of following them (disturbing other passengers and making them leave their seats) were worse, and I discovered that operators actually do leave their seats.
I’ve been nothing but courteous to the other passengers: adjusting my work schedule to avoid crowded T times, finding a spot as far away from the aisle and other people as possible, waiting for others to pay before me at the end of the day, etc. And during both of these confrontations, I apologized to the passengers for the delay. It’s never been the passengers who had the problem anyway.
It’s probably tempting to think that I should just go along with the absolute rules. But I’m the opposite of a confrontational person, so if riding the T with a bike is going to put me in a position where I have to confront a passenger to leave their seat, when there’s no good reason other than “rules are rules”, I’m not going to do it, which is really a shame, because I was enjoying the ride in.
I just don’t have it in me to get into work or home at the end of the day visibly shaken up from this type of interaction with people. Port Authority likes to say that they are bike-friendly, but any organization that employs operators who power trip and force their paying customers to confront one another is anything but friendly, to bike riders or otherwise.
It happens randomly. It’s gotten better but I’ve experienced this exact thing. My guests from out of town were (3) were split into two different cars at 9a on a Sunday morning for this exact thing. Just be glad the T drivers can hit you with the T I suppose. I did have one take a swing at me one time.
@ gascap ” I’ll keep an eye out for the window instructions that this guy claimed were on the T windows, and will post a picture if I find them. ”
I’ll keep an eye out for unicorns and will post a picture if I find them.
Let’s see who gets this first.
I saw a unicorn on the Pan Handle trail the other day… should have grabbed a photo.
Must be the operator , i have never had a problem stowed or not
I use a strap wtih a quick release buckle to secure in proper location and out of the way !
“I did have one take a swing at me one time.”
Say what? Tell more.
He accused me of not paying the toll. It escalated quickly. He kept yelling (while passengers were taking my side), I said F u, he charged out of the cockpit. Meh.
Saying F U is fighting words.
If he hits you, it is (more or less) legal
At the risk of making everyone roll their eyes (again.) (sigh.), I suggest developing the habit of using “drunkard” as a profanity equivalent.
^ I prefer the sign-language version of ‘fighting words.’
It may be legal, but it’s possible the Port Authority has some rule for operators like “Don’t punch the passengers”. An operator who punches too many could find himself on the wrong end of a stern talking-to.
Sorry to be a pedant, but “fighting words” in no way make assault legal. http://www.atlredline.com/dear-marcus-smart-fighting-words-dont-really-exist-1520084597
Even the Wikipedia page says nothing about fighting words justifying assault. It’s an archaic judicial doctrine about limits on free speech.
Man, I’m starting to count myself as fortunate for not having a commute that requires any interaction with Port Authority. For years now I’ve romanticized about how awesome it would be to have T stations in the north and North Hills area for cycling purposes, but if operators are like this, maybe I’m wishing for a nightmare. :(
If an operator told me that I had to kick people out of seats just to satisfy some nit-picky rule (instead of enforcing it themselves), I’d probably never ride again. Especially if they’re being as rude or jerkish as was described above.
I’m willing to accept the possibility that it’s just a few bad apples in the pool of operators, but if there little to no recourse in dealing with it, that’s kinda lame. If you commute at the same times each day, you’re basically doomed to have the same confrontation all damn week. :-\
Sorry, this whole thread just makes me depressed.
… don’t call PAT to file a complaint about a driver while you’re still on his bus:
Swearing off public transit because a few bus drivers are jerks is like swearing off commuting by bike because a few car drivers are jerks.
In both cases, there often isn’t much you can do about it, unless maybe you have it on video and you happen to get someone in authority willing to pursue the matter, or it goes way beyond being a jerk (as in RustyRed’s link).
But fortunately the jerk percentage is pretty low in both cases.
@ WillB Sorry to be a pedant, but “fighting words” in no way make assault legal
Yeah, I suppose that is true, but it’s some kind of mitigating factor. Also set witnesses of tehevents against you.
It sounds like Port Authority needs to get more pleasant about bikes and the T, particularly since they still won’t let us use the Wabash Tunnel.
Guaranteed, I will be bringing this up at an Allegheny County Transit Council meeting.
Please update this thread with updates and any similar, first-hand accounts.
on a positive note, there are now some stickers that actually say bikes are allowed on the T. That’s a positive from a few years ago when, the operators would just kick you off
That’s a positive from a few years ago when, the operators would just kick you off
That’s a positive from a few years ago when the farebooth attendant would not even let you get near the train in the first place.
<–fixed that for you
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