Returning to Transit (The Decision)

PTA

After much thought, and after a tough couple of months figuring things out, I’m going to take my talents to DDOT. That’s right, the Detroit Department of Transportation.

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I was in the training program before, and I wasn’t happy with what I experienced, however I’ve been convinced things are changing, for the better. I would like to be apart of the change. Out with the old way of doing things, in with the new breed. This is my third, and final run as a transit bus driver. I don’t plan on switching teams again.

This is an opportunity to help change the culture of an organization and become a championship caliber team. I know it will be a long road ahead, but I’m something like the LeBron, (Pre-flopping) of bus drivers. A franchise player if I must say so myself.

I’ll be writing here on PTA a lot more…

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The Q in The D

PTA

The much anticipated QLINE street car makes it’s debut on May 12.

The 3 mile route will service the Woodward corridor, from downtown Detroit to Midtown. This also marks the first time since 1956, that Detroit has had streetcar style public transportation.

What was originally called the M-1 rail (before Dan Gilberts’ Quicken Loans purchased the naming rights), began construction in July of 2014, costing $142 Million. Each car will be 66 feet in length, and can travel up to the maximum speed of 35 m.p.h. up Woodward.

I’m curious to see how all these crazy drivers in South East Michigan are going to adapt. That’s the biggest question mark for me.

Here is some video of Detroits’ newest addition to the public transportation family. Enjoy:

Video courtesy of WXYZ channel 7 Detroit

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Top 10 Favorite Routes

PTA

I have worked for a couple of transportation companies. In my time, I have found routes I’ve fell in love with, and some routes I tried my damnedest to stay away from! Here’s my list of routes, that appeal to me for various reasons. Routes that I love to win on a bid, and just ride.

14 Crosstown(DDOT)

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Going from East to West and back. It’s easy, you see some main streets that help us newbies learn the city, and has some good layovers.

493 Downtown L.A. Express (Foothill Transit)

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This was the route that I learned the good and bad of Express Routes. I cut my teeth so to speak. The good was how quick you could potentially get to your ending destination, and have all the “me time” I wanted. The bad was there was usually traffic, and when it was bad you…

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Evolution of a Bus Driver

PTA

Do you remember the Chappelle Show skit, called the 3 Dave’s? Well, this is very similar. But it’s the bus driver addition! It took a few years, but I’ve realized, driving is apart of my being. It’s instrumental in shaping me into who I am.

When I’m behind the wheel I feel I am the best driver in America — dare say the world. Driving a bus is the one thing I’m borderline arrogant about. However you have to be on your toes, it’s pure multitasking, decision making, and so much more going on than what the average passenger sees.

Along the way I’ve learned patience, mastered the art of small talk, and I have met some cool people along the way. I want to share a bit about “The Dave” with those who don’t know my background:

Foothill Transit

Circa 2011. Have no clue what I was “pondering”…

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The Day I knew it was Over

If I can be honest, I think things began to go downhill once it was revealed you didn’t have to wear seatbelt. Where I’m from it’s mandatory. It’s a federal freaking law. Not here. Not Detroit. They claim it’s a danger factor. Come to find out, it’s because most seatbelt weren’t in working condition anyway, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Last time I checked, if danger comes your way, it doesn’t take long  to take a seatbelt off, and if you’re treating people right — the chances of someone causing you harm is minimal.  I’m more worried about bouncing out of the drivers seat of a moving bus after hitting one of these notorious Michigan potholes.

After two weeks of waiting on Ashton Kutcher to arrive and tell me I was being punked, it was time to go outside and let the class get familiar with the buses. It was the start of the snowball turning into an avalanche for me. The countdown to expediting my entrepreneurial endeavors had begun.

Somehow it made sense why Detroit had so many people driving around with one headlight. But there is no reason why so many buses should have one headlight. There were buses with actual baseball size holes in them, some buses looked as though they just came back from war or something. These weren’t ordinary dings, nor wear & tear, but more like people tearing shit up!

How is one supposed to feel safe when there is literally duct tape holding together mirrors? Holes in the windows that look as though actual bullets struck them.

Pre-Trpping a bus is a federal law, but apparently the law doesn’t apply to this place. Sometimes these people pre-tripped, sometimes they didn’t, depends on who it was. Even when it was done, it was certainly a lot less to do then I was used to. Thorough is not a term I would use to describe in my experience with this company.

Essentially, you gave the bus a once over, and you were on your way. A brake test? What’s that? Again, federal law does not apply. I can recall a time when we did a parking brake test, the brakes failed, and the trainer wanted me to keep trying so we could take the bus out.

The day we had to choose between heat, or a working horn, is the day I knew it was time to go. My soul screamed at me that it was  time to formulate my exit strategy. First of all, it’s FEDERAL LAW (there’s those words again) to have a working horn. For so many reasons. But to have to choose between something lawful, and something that can keep you from having an accident, and something that is a luxury, is mind blowing. Yet, there we were.  The day before, the headsign stopped working in the yard so the trainer decided to take an advertisement down from inside the bus, flip it over and make a sign.

Jokes were flying around about it, and everyone is laughing, but me. It was downright embarrassing to watch people the same color as I, continually settling for less. It doesn’t help the reputation that black people run everything into the ground. This is a black run company, in a predominately black city. And both are in shambles.

Excerpt from my upcoming book titled: Malcontent (Failing my way to Freedom)

If Transportation Was The NBA…

If you know me, you know I equate everything to sports. Especially the NBA. I come from a transit background, so this is dedicated to all my bus drivers, coach, and train operators. This is a great way to help you look at the transportation industry hierarchy — if you so choose to make it a career. Obviously the ladder goes all the way to the CEO who runs the team, and the General Manager— in charge of talent. But where do we fit in? If one decides to leave the game(so to speak), there are plenty of opportunities, inside, as well as outside of… shall we say the game. 

 

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I’ll take any suggestions from operators about other similarities and update this and/or add on. New website dedicated to transit will be coming this weekend, as I’ve realized it’s my second passion. 

-Peace ✌🏿