This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Though I sympathize with Erica Barnett’s plight in not being able to get off the bus before it took her all the way to West Seattle, I think she has to realize that the rules are there for a reason. Once the bus drivers start making concessions for some people, and not others, then every decision to bend the rules starts to come under scrutiny. That is to say, it adds a ton of stress to the driver if every decision has to be weighed. If you just have a blanket rule that you enforce, no matter how absurd it may seem in a particular situation, you absolve yourself from the stresses of each particular decision. More importantly, Metro absolves itself from having to deal with the politics and optics of each potential situation.

(Again, not that I have a ton of sympathy for bus drivers like the jerk who flipped me off in my car for no apparent reason during downtown rush hour last week.)

More to the point, Erica’s a fan of speedy buses. Last fall she asked whether handicapped people should be banned from express buses entirely. So surely she understands that asking the bus driver to make unscheduled stops is not good policy.

P.S. Incidentally, this is also a reason why people like trains. There’s an anonymity. The train starts and stops and you never see the conductor, so you’re powerless to ask them to stop for you, and so you resign yourself to being on their schedule. That anonymity barrier between driver and passenger is helpful in depersonalizing the experience. It’s not about the particular driver, it’s about the system.

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