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Mr. Linsky
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2008 3:09 pm    Post subject: [NJ] 'BUSES AND CELL PHONES - BAD MIX!' Reply with quote

On These Commuter Buses, the Passengers Hold All Calls, or Else

Published: September 3, 2008 The New York Times

The New Jersey commuter bus heading to New York City one day last week rolled to a stop on the side of the highway. The morning holdup was caused by a passenger who was talking on her cellphone.

“I’ve got all day, ma’am,” the driver announced into his microphone, with the bus idling, about half an hour from the Lincoln Tunnel. “I’ll wait till you’re done.”

Nearly 50 passengers heard the warning, which the driver said was aimed at “the woman seated behind me in the third row by the window.” The woman, embarrassed by the sudden attention, hurried to wrap up her phone conversation.

Once the bus started rolling again toward the Port Authority Bus Terminal, she said to a passenger next to her, rather sheepishly: “I had to cancel an order. Sorry ... but what’s the big deal?”

One of the few upsides to commuting from the suburbs — aside from being able to afford a bigger home — is the ability to take care of personal business, or business business, on the way to work. But Lakeland Bus Lines has signs on its buses that warn: “Cellphone use restricted to emergency use only.”

Leo Homeijer, vice president of operations for Lakeland, based in Dover, N.J., said the cellphone rule was put into effect about 10 years ago because of an increasing number of complaints from drivers and passengers. He said that of all the grievances his company heard, inconsiderate cellphone use topped the list.

“I have 75 drivers,” he said, “and they have enough to worry about and concentrate on driving these big buses.”

Mr. Homeijer said that for the most part, the issue involved common courtesy: “Eighty percent of the time, cellphones don’t bother people. But let’s face it, people who talk on their cellphones are basically talking loudly. Some people and drivers handle it differently. Do I wish that my drivers could be more diplomatic about it sometimes? Probably.”

Mr. Homeijer was reminded of a particularly nasty episode a few years ago, when a passenger who refused to put away his cellphone had to be ejected from a bus.

“The phone just kept ringing, and he became abusive when challenged,” he said of the passenger. “It reached a point where the police had to be called. But that was one incident, rare.”

On another recent morning, a Lakeland rider getting on in Parsippany, N.J., after hearing several riders using their phones, decided to act like a one-man cellphone constabulary. He stood up and approached each stranger to demand, “Could you please show a little consideration and not use your phone?” All obliged, albeit grudgingly.

Another day, a woman being particularly loud on her phone was asked by a bus driver — this driver used the word “please” — to stop. The woman shot back, “No, I think I’m going to make one more call — to your boss at Lakeland!” The driver, exasperated by the brief exchange but doing his best to remain calm, responded, “Feel free.”

Other companies that offer commuter service between Manhattan and New Jersey like DeCamp Bus Lines, based in Montclair, have also barred passengers from using cellphones while onboard.

Courtney Carroll, a spokeswoman for New Jersey Transit — which transports the greatest number of commuters in the state on its bus and train lines — said that while cellphones were not banned on its carriers, common courtesy was stressed. She pointed to the agency’s poster campaign, which started last October, that addressed issues like loud talking on phones.

The Long Island Rail Road started a similar ad campaign last year. In one well-publicized example of cellphone warfare, one passenger was arrested on assault and harassment charges after an argument with other passengers who annoyed him with their phone chatter. The passenger, John Clifford, was acquitted.

Mr. Homeijer, the bus company executive, acknowledged that cellphones had become a growing part of many commuters’ workaday world. When asked to compare the levels of bus noise between two people having a conversation (allowed) and one person talking on the phone (not allowed), he found few, if any, differences.

But, Mr. Homeijer pointed out, the loud ring tones on incoming cellphone calls can create a major annoyance, startling driver and passenger alike, or at the very least rudely interrupting someone’s nap.

Kabir Singh, a Lakeland customer from Mountain Lakes, N.J., said that people in tight quarters, and especially the bus drivers, needed to display more tact and understanding about cellphones.

“I pay almost $300 a month for tickets to ride on these buses — they just recently hit us with a rate increase after a bus drivers’ strike was called off — and I don’t want to be ridiculed when I have to use my phone,” he said of his business calls. “Sometimes, I think people are being treated like we’re in kindergarten.”

Mr. Linsky - Green Bus Lines, Inc., Jamaica, NY
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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 3:20 pm    Post subject: Hounded by a Cell Phone on Greyhound Reply with quote

Nearly three years ago, when I was enroute from Batavia,NY to Scranton,PA with a change to Capitol Trailways at Binghamton,NY, someone's cellphone kept ringing almost incessantly even though the driver had posted a no cell phone sign on one of the sun visors. The cellphone episode got particularly annoying while we were enroute between Geneva and Ithaca and the driver repeatedly told the cellphone user to knock it off as this was a potential distraction and could have caused an accident. I practically wanted to take the damn thing and ram it down the guys throat. There is a time and place for everything and unless it is a dire emergency, a cellphone, unless used by the driver to contact his dispatcher, has NO place on a bus full of passengers. A few years earlier than that, I had an episode where I was going from a Red Roof Inn near the BWI Airport to the light rail station and I boarded Baltimore MTA's #17 bus and wanted to buy a day pass from the driver. You guessed it, he was on his cellphone and did not even notice I did not put my fare in his fare box, but purchased my pass at the light rail station. MTA still got their revenue, just that this yakkity bus driver did not get it in his fare box. He could have rearended someone with his cell phone antics. What a way to connect, pun intended.!
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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's obvious that the problem isn't cell phone use but lack of consideration. This can (and often does) extend to conversation between two passengers.

I was on a NJ Transit train to Trenton several years ago, and there was a guy about eight rows behind me talking on his phone, with Sears customer service, very loudly. The whole car knew not only of the problem he had with his product, but also his full name, address, date of birth, and credit card number! After he got off, I was talking to the woman right across the aisle from me, and it turned out that she had also been on the phone for almost the entire ride, but I couldn't tell because she was being quiet.

I think asking people to be courteous should be enough. Prohibiting phone use makes using transit less convenient for those who have legitimate needs to be on the phone, so they'll just drive instead.
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I attended a scheduling workshop up north of Orillia, ON about nine years ago. Since the durn Ontario Northland train didn't run north on Saturdays, I had to ride either the ON bus or Penetang-Midland's bus from Toronto to Washago, where the conference centre (notice the Canadian spelling?) would pick me up.

I decided on the PMCL bus due to its convenient departure time. It was a gear-jammer MC9, clean inside, and there were perhaps 30 passengers. While rolling north out of Toronto on the expressway the driver -- so help me -- reached around to his briefcase on the first passenger seat behind him, got his cellphone out and made a personal call while hammering up the highway at 100kph in heavy traffic!

Had he handled the bus better, it wouldn't have worried me as much, but he missed every gear he tried to get it into, clipped a few curbs, changed lanes without signaling and and did not make me feel comfortable about riding with him even when he was not on the phone!

Incidentally, I've driven lots of 5-speed MCI coaches, and my wife could, with a little practice, drive one without grinding the gears. They're that easy to shift!

Oh well. That was somewhat off-topic. We old people wander from our thoughts sometimes...

As a driver, I rarely let phone conversations rattle me when I was driving the bus. As a passenger, it can be annoying if the person is speaking loudly. Invariably, the passenger on the phone will sit in back where noisy ventilation equipment is, and have to shout over the noise in order to share the conversation with everyone else.

It is rude. It is annoying. Meh, what are ya gonna do? There's a reason why most commuter trains nowadays, as well as most Amtrak Northeast Corridor trains, have a "quiet car" with a no-audio devices without headphones rule. Don't know how strictly its enforced.

"That's right, dear. I'll pick up KFC and a half-gallon of milk on the way home. Luv you too. Bye."
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

timecruncher wrote:
Invariably, the passenger on the phone will sit in back where noisy ventilation equipment is, and have to shout over the noise in order to share the conversation with everyone else.

FWIW, I find the noisy ventilation equipment in the typical modern bus just as annoying as loud cellphone talkers.
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bus operators should definitely not be allowed to talk on the phone while driving!
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