May 15

May 12, 2017 Hanover Street Bridge HiJinks

May 12, 2017 Hanover Street Bridge HiJinks
or
How A Non-Profit can shoot itself in the foot

Imagine for a few moments you’re on the way to work or some other minor chore…and your route takes you over the Hanover Street Bridge. That’s the most direct route out of Baltimore City towards GlenBurnie and south. You avoid the long way via the BW parkway or skirting around the Middle Branch.

Ah a small snag … a motorcycle policeman is blocking both north and south bound traffic at the intersection of Wells and Hanover Streets. The block is so effective even the southbound dim bulbs that make the u turn into the 95 south ramp are stymied. You’ve seen no signs about a detour, no notice of an emergency on any of the local radio stations…you’re just plain stuck in traffic with no time to spare.

Must be something really important, as there are multiple motorcycle officers at the intersection…lined up with their bubble gum lights flashing, rotating to beat the band. Could it be the Presidential motorcade on the way from a helicopter landing at Fort McHenry?
Perhaps some terrible tragedy on the peninsula with ambulances on the way to Harbor General Hospital?

But wait…now there are bicycles…a log line of bicycles exiting Wells Street onto Hanover. Maybe it’s training for bicycle based police officers? And now there are a few ambulances and utility vehicles. Finally, vehicles with signs indicating you’ve been delayed for at least 15 minutes by the Police Unity Tour.

Traffic finally starts to move….at the pace of the tour…slowly…ever so slowly and one can’t help but notice a huge line of northbound delayed traffic…from Wells and Hanover down into Brooklyn, past 895 and into Brooklyn Park. No one either either the north or south bound lanes looks happy or even remotely civil.

Now you have to wonder…why would any organization hoping to garner support from the community for their noble cause purposely cause a rush hour traffic jam on the ONLY direct route in and out of the South Baltimore Peninsula? What logic prevails causing hundreds of motorists to be late for work, doctor’s appointments, etc? Could it be that the Police believe they are not subject to the same rules the rest of us need to observe?

May 10

But Wait…There’s More!

About a month ago(April, 2017) I posted about the joys of using the Circulator free bus service.  After receiving some negative feedback, I thought it might be time to revisit the issue and get s sanity check.

Checking the Circulator website (http://charmcitycirculator.com/sites/default/files/ONLINE_Separate_Route_Maps_010417_PURPLE.jpg) I observed the southbound stop at Saratoga Street had been relocated…but with no indication where.  Checking the Next Bus page, the system gave me some expected arrival times.

Resorting to low technological solutions, I called the Circulator office on the phone and asked about the location of the Saratoga Street stop, since the web page said it was relocated.  The person at the other end of the conversation informed me the stop was closed, not relocated and there was no information about when it might be reopened.  Being very helpful he told me to go to either the stop before or after the Saratoga Street location.  When I asked why the Next Bus page showed arrival times, he told me the page did not reflect information about closed stops.

One of comments about the April post told me us the Next Bus page was not maintained by the same organization as Charm City Circulator.
One can only wonder if there is another organization that produces the pdf files about the Circulator routes…since they don’t seem to agree with what a Circulator employee tells telephone callers or what the Next Bus page shows viewers.

So, I get the impression that one should not trust high-tech….stick to low-tech like the phone.  Of course one wonders how much money has been/will be spent on technology that doesn’t work?

It’s just another example of how folks can use money that is not theirs to mismanage a steel ball.

Apr 08

Charm City Confusicator

Charm City Confusicator

Who would have thought being at a discontinued bus stop could open a window on the efficiency of government? In today’s age of technology one would think there may have been an electronic warning about diminished bus service…and with the inflated labor force of government, one might expect something very old fashioned, like a sign might tell the story of “We don’t deliver what we advertise”.

One afternoon I had a hankering for some Indian food…and decided to visit one of several places offering such goodies on Charles Street. For those either not familiar with Charles Street, or familiar enough to avoid visiting a run-down, trying to make a comeback area of Baltimore, Charles Street used to be very posh, now it’s, well, let’s say trying real hard to be average.

I had an abundance of time, so rather than drive and be dragged into unwilling intercourse with the parking meters, parking Nazis or nefarious pay-for-damage-to-your-car lots the bus seemed a viable alternative. Being a cheapskate I opted for the Charm City Circulator – one of the many “freebies” I fund with property taxes. The Circulator is operated by a private company, but funded by the City of Baltimore…and that should have been the first warning.

After walking several blocks, I spied the Charm City Circulator stop…and a very welcome bench. The Circulator sign told me the bus comes every 10 minutes…but that was a lie. After about 15 minutes, I went to the Circulator web site to determine when I might expect the next bus (http://charmcitycirculator.com/content/next-bus). The handy-dandy, you-have-to-believe-it-cause-its-on=the-internet web page told me the next bus would be in 29 minutes, the one after that in 37 minutes and the third bus in 49 minutes. So, I’ve confirmed from the Charm City Circulator very own web page that the buses sorta, kinda, somewhat run every 10 minutes, more or less.

While waiting, a University of Maryland bus slowed and eased into the stop. When I didn’t board it, the bus left, and the same thing occurred with an MTA bus. I didn’t take the MTA, as I had no exact change for the fare box. I had great hopes the Charm City Circulator would be pulling into the stop in a few minutes.

What fools we mortals be! The Circulator web page told me the bus would be arriving in 4 minutes…so like a good consumer, I stood up at the stop to insure the driver knew I wanted to board the bus. But, Lo and Behold…there was no bus…and the web page now told me the next bus would be arriving in 7 minutes. So obviously either bus was invisible, or I was invisible.

What to do? I made another mistake….I decided to wait for the next Circulator….and the web page did not disappoint me…it counted down the minutes to the next bus….which did not arrive(another invisible bus?).

Taking matters into my own hands, I called Charm City Circulator and explained the problem. The answer was short. “Sir, the stop at 327 Saratoga Street has been temporarily discontinued for several months.” I asked why there was no sign to that effect. The answer was short. “Sir, the stop at 327 Saratoga Street has been temporarily discontinued for several months.” In an effort to understand the problem, I told the Circulator operator that the web site did not day the stop was discontinued…and in fact gave out times of arrival. THe response was The answer was short. “Sir, the stop at 327 Saratoga Street has been temporarily discontinued for several months. The web site could not be showing the bus arriving.”

OK….I give up…I walked to a Starbucks, got change and started to go back to the bus stop…when an MTA bus passed me, not stopping because I was not at the stop.

Undaunted, I walked from Saint Paul and Saratoga to Saint Paul and Pratt which was the nearest Circulator stop with an Electronic Sign Board that indicated when the next bus would arrive. I figured the sign would be more accurate than a web page…but, guess what? The sign was out of service.

So, after watching 3 Circulator buses drive past the stop with “Out of Service” displayed I caught a bus and finally got home.

Here it is – several days since my adventure, and the Circulator web site still shows an invisible bus arriving.

Mar 27

Light at the End of the Tunnel

It was a rotten kind of day….light rain, low visibility and Baltimore drivers doing their level best to either run you off the road or wrap themselves around a pole…the kind of day when you just want to go Oh Sht!

I tried my level best to make a left hand turn off Eastern Avenue when one of the great unwashed gave me the one finger salute out of his open window and yelled “You dumb sht!”

It got me to thinking that for years I’ve been called a dumb sht, a lazy sht, a useless sht a little sht and even a big sht. All those names, nothing to show for it and general confusion about my place in the grand scheme of things.

But. there is light at the end of the tunnel. I saw a sign about gainful employment, and I knew that I was fully qualified. Read the rest of this entry »