Sunday, December 07, 2003


No matter how hard I try, it's hard to avoid complaining about the 104 on the blog. Once again, service on the 104 today turned into a comedy of errors normally reserved for weekday peak hours...

For starters, 5314, used on the 8:05am departure from West Chester (4215 block) had a damaged window in the rear door. Apparently, nobody bothered to notice initially, since it was sent out for the 9:05am return trip to West Chester (though it appears it was later replaced by 5324).

Then, despite the fact that there have been past bulletin orders prohibiting the use of Neoplans on Red Arrow routes on Sundays, guess what shows up to cover the 12:05pm outbound departure? 3380, which pulled in 8 minutes late off of the 11:05am trip from West Chester. When the operator pulled in, however, instead of pulling up to the berth, he decided to pull in behind a parked 123 bus near the trolley revenue booth. Suffice to say the relief driver - and the frozen passengers - were not thrilled. To make matters worse, 3380 was an absolute dog. The driver had a hell of a time getting the bus to accellerate up the hills along West Chester Pike, espeically at 476 and Edgmont. After leaving 69 St 3 minutes late, the bus lost about 3-4 minutes en route. (Amazingly, I was able to get to my regular bar in time for the opening kickoff of the Iggles beat-down of those Dallas Cow-girls.)

The afternoon blocks weren't much better. 5302, initially covering 4218 block departed from West Chester at 4:05pm, yet lost about 10 minutes en route to 69 St Terminal. You guessed it ... despite the fact that 5302 recently went through VOH, the accelleration sucked. In spite of this, though, 5302 was sent out for the 5:05pm round trip before this genius operator finally decided that it wasn't really a good idea to send out a slow bus for her relief. Sounds like good news, right?

Um, no.

In fact, this is where things get ugly, and fast:

  • 7:03pm: "Genius" arrives into 69 St, though this time, only 8 minutes late. Probably knowing that the next trip has to depart from the center island platform instead of the trolley-side platform, "Genius" promptly drops passengers off at the trolley drop-off point
  • 7:07pm: "Genius" then pulls around and informs the relief driver that the bus is being taken out of service (presumably because it's a slow piece of crap, but the sign wasn't working properly either, as it's frozen on "SEPTA/OFF DUTY") and drives right back to the depot. Apparently, this rocket scientists conveniently forgot to call the control center to request a replacement bus be ready for her relief. Oops...
  • 7:25pm: The relief driver waits tells awaiting 104 passengers - whose collective anger is slowly starting to simmer - that he has to walk down to the depot and get a replacement bus
  • 7:45pm: 5595 finally pulls into the terminal - it also has a defective sign (only this one reads "SEPTA/TAKE NEXT BUS")
  • 7:49pm: The 7:07pm departure to West Chester finally departs 69 St - it's only 42 minutes late. A few people actually think it's the 8:12pm departure leaving way early...
  • 8:05pm: Scheduled to arrive at 7:17pm, the 104 arrives at Eagle Rd. Somehow, we've managed to lose 6 minutes since departing
  • 8:06pm: For reasons only he (and probably Bill Parcells) knows, the operator stops the bus to look for something in his bag at Glendale Rd
  • 8:20pm: Between Eagle Rd and Newtown Square, we have managed to lose 4 more minutes. Did I mention that this is the normal slow-poke driver who covers 4218 block on Sundays?
  • 8:31pm: Amazingly enough, we make up 3 minutes as we arrive at PA 352 in Westtown.
  • 8:46pm: Yet another stop to search his bag, this time at High and Union Sts in West Chester. You think it could wait about 2 minutes when he gets to the end of the line?
  • 8:48pm: 49 minutes after departing 69 St Terminal, the 7:12pm 104 to West Chester finally arrives. This bozo must be getting paid by the minute.
  • 8:50pm: 5595 finally starts back to 69 St; this was supposed to be the 8:05pm departure. Departing 45 minutes late. Estimated arrival time (which was supposed to be 8:54pm): 9:45pm. Ye gods...
  • 8:59pm: 5402 (4219 block) arrives 2 minutes early.
  • 9:05pm: The scheduled return to 69 St departs on-time. That should be a fun trip, eh?

Now, could someone please explain to me why "Genius" didn't bother to call the control center BEFORE arriving at 69 St? At least her relief could've had his bus ready to roll out on-time (but probably arrive in West Chester 10 minutes late). And why did it take 15-20 minutes for the relief operator to finally figure out that he had to pick-up his replacement bus? And is there any reason why a white-shirt was nowhere to be found? (Okay, I know it's Sunday, but it would make sense to have some supervison on the road at Red Arrow, right? Oops, what was I thinking?)

Yup. Just another wonderful series of mis-adventures on the 104. It's living proof that stupidity doesn't take weekends off...

Follow-up: An accident at Market and Bolmar (near Dunkin Donuts) forced the 104 to divert via Chester County Hospital and US 202/322 last night. The accident was reported shortly before 9:00pm, adding to an already stressful commute for riders waiting for the 8:05pm West Chester to 69 St trip. (Posted 8 Dec 03, 9:50pm)

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