Sunday, February 13, 2005

Something ain't right here... UPDATED

Original Post, Feb. 8, 2004:

Last week, an unfortunate transit rider on our local Golden Gate Transit fell out of a window on one of the new model Orion buses.

The bizarre accident occurred about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday at Beach and Polk streets on the 38 line bus. As the bus made a turn, the latch on an emergency exit window at the back of the bus gave way and the man fell out, Golden Gate Transit officials said.
Now, being car-less myself, I ride Golden Gate transit on a daily basis and have spend a lot of time on these Orions, so the following statement caught my attention as wrong:
"The last seat in these buses is up higher than the rest, so a lot of his weight could have pressed against the window," said Mary Currie, transit spokeswoman.
I've sat in those last row seats a lot, and the windows there aren't emergency exits! They are sealed with rubber and aren't going anywhere. The window between those windows and the rear door are emergency exits, and that's probably the window from whence the passenger fell.

My problem with this is that Ms. Currie is the spokesperson for the agency running these buses, and she doesn't even know that the windows by the back bench aren't emergency exits? She did her homework by knowing that the back bench is much higher than the other seats, and I'll credit her for that, but she should have been a bit more careful. Maybe it would be a good idea for GGT to send its management types out every so often to actually ride the system.


UPDATE, Feb. 13, 2004:

I should look before I speak. Really. The window on the right side of the bus, where I usually sit, is indeed sealed as I said. The window on the left side, however, is an emergency exit, though it's an odd one. On every other emergency exit on that model bus, the red handle is at the front of the window. On this last-row-left window, however, the handle is at the rear of the window, right where someone who was sleeping would lean. I don't think that the height of the seat or the man's weight has much to do with this one. My bet is that the man leaned a different way and inadvertently caught the handle and released the latch holding the window in.

That said, I still think that the bus company needs to have its management ride the buses more often. Why? Because someone who actually thought like a bus passanger would have spotted the location of that handle and realized that it would have people leaning on it fairly often. Hopefully, having spotted that, they could have asked for the handle to be moved. However, I'm actually expanding my criticism to the engineers at Orion who put the handle in that spot in the first place. They should ride their own buses, or bring in a few regular bus passengers, so they can get an idea of how their designs will perform in the real world. It's theory vs. practice. (A concept you'll hear me talking about A LOT on this blog, by the way.)

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